In the ongoing and agonizing shadows of war around them, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem offered their rationale, along with a prayer, for dimming the lights in Bethlehem this year:
Amid war, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem have called “upon our congregations to stand strong with those facing such afflictions, by this year foregoing any unnecessarily festive activities.” The statement notes that while, under normal circumstances, displays of light would mark the birth of Christ, this year is marked with the loss of thousands of lives, including women and children, with many grieving “the loss of their homes, their loved ones, or the uncertain fate of those dear to them.” The statement also invites “the faithful to advocate, pray, and contribute generously as they are able for the relief of the victims of this war and for those in dire need, as well as to encourage others to join them in this mission of mercy”. This call and others have resulted in the cancellation of all public festivities and decorations to mark the season.
Holy and Loving God, to shepherds on hillsides around Bethlehem, your angel said, “Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy for all people.”
In joy, we praise you for the birth of Christ, your word and love made flesh. And in hope, we wait for a day when the whole world will experience the peace, truth, justice, healing and reconciliation of your reign, to which Christ’s birth points, and he grew to preach.
On that first Christmas, in Christ you put on frail flesh, were born and lived life always on the move in a dangerous world. Like so many children, in Christ you fled terror and had to find refuge, sometimes in foreign lands.
We remember before you those whose lives are more like Christ’s than we can imagine or care to acknowledge:those who live precarious lives; who are without homes, who have been uprooted from their communities and land, who flee for their lives, who have been taken from families and friends and who mourn the loss of security and stability, of love and life.
We pray for your protection and care for those who suffer and who flee violence, prejudice, cynical politics, desperation and greed around the world, especially in the land where Christ was born and lived.
Watch over those whose lives are in danger, comfort those who worry about loved ones; and gather into your love those who are killed or die because of the lack of resources and care.
You have called us to be children of your new order.
We pray for the courage and grace to not be indifferent or naïve, discouraged and blind to hope or silent in calls for justice and peace.
Reform our hearts and shape our actions to conform to the pattern of Christ’s life as we seek to continue his ministry in your world.
Glory to God in the highest heaven and on earth, peace.
In the name of the Christ child, the Prince of Peace, we pray
The Office Administrator is in the office: Mon 8:30 AM - 3 PM
Wednesdays & Thursdays 9 AM - 4 PM
Street Parking Free on Sundays
City Hall Parkade max $2 evenings and weekends, including Sundays