18 February 2018
We still keep singing the Christmas carols
Dear People of St Johns
The Christmas message of peace, of walls coming down, of hope, love and joy as a real possibility for humanity is a challenging one in today's world but we still sing it in our carols.
"It came upon the midnight clear,
That glorious song of old,….
“Peace on the earth, good will to men,
From Heaven’s all gracious King…..”"
I read my mail for the day
If the Christmas story were to happen today, Mary and Joseph would have a hard time getting to Bethlehem. Since 2002, Israeli authorities have been building a separation barrier ………… According to Israeli human rights monitoring organization B'Tselem, the separation barrier affects nearly half a million Palestinian residents, ….. When completed, the barrier will be 780 km long. The separation barrier surrounds Bethlehem, located in Palestine, on three sides and cuts off the city from Jerusalem only six miles away….Thousands of Palestinians have difficulty going to their fields and marketing their produce in other areas of the West Bank …… The harm to the farming sector is liable to have drastic economic effects on the residents - whose economic situation is already very difficult - and drive many families into poverty."
Peace on earth does not seem even a remote possibility in the place where the story tells us shepherds heard the angelic message.
"Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;"
An email comes about Darfur, Sudan where the mainly Christian peoples in the south are
facing genocide in a conflict that simply is not stopping.
• over 200,000 people have lost their lives to the conflict
• 1 million displaced people are living in makeshift camps
• million people are homeless
• 4 million people have been affected by the conflict in Darfur.
"Beneath the angel strain have rolled,
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring; "
A letter from our own PCANZ Assembly Executive Secretary.tumbles out of the fax machine during a short respite from the continuous unsolicited faxes selling cheery Santas.
New Zealand has an appalling record of family violence which last year saw 63,000 domestic violence incidents recorded by police….. .
"O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing."
So why do we sing?. We sing with hope, because in Bethlehem the most unlikely groups are getting together, Jewish, Christian , Moslem and together they are working for peace. Crisis gives opportunity to those who have the desire for justice and peace
We sing with hope because in Dafur, CWS and Caritas [the Roman Catholic church agency] are working together to help the people of that land to survive in their villages and the refugee camps. They ask the nations for those with the will to step in a protest and bring peace.
We sing with hope because here in our own city people care and act and keep on acting to change belief systems that accept violence towards children and those who are vulnerable, and in our city are many families where children are cared for in families which provide safety and love..
We sing because a child was born, long ago who was called Emmanual, God with us. He challenged our violence with love, deep, unfaltering, divine love which went through death and claimed new life. - for everyone.
So we sing the angels message and work and hope for the time will come
" When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world send back the song
which now the angels sing."
May the blessing of the Christ child stay with you this Christmas.
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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