By Mark Francis, Calgary, Canada
December 23, 2016 (SSB) — Christmas is surely so much easier to celebrate, easily taken for granted, and also less meaningful here in my safety in North America, than it is for all of you. Christ’s birth calls us to allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to love and be loved, and this surely seems nonsensical for all of you in your position, yet, so many of you do just this, including many of you who simply believe in the Creator being revealed in all life around you.
Christ’s love is something we, as God’s children, celebrate without really understanding, and that is as it should be. Faith in Christ’s love, not violent resistance, was the key reason that Eastern Europe became free and democratic in late 1989 in a peaceful transition, South Africa became democratic with so little violence, and its absence meaning that Arab Spring was and is doomed from the outset, and its woebegotten citizens sentenced to further suffering.
Listening to much of the dialogue, and your citizenry’s rejection of armed warlords’ utterly misguided call to violence, says so many of you are willing to embrace Christ’s love as the guiding light in your lives and relationships.
This is why there is so much more hope, though you might not yet believe, for South Sudan to emerge as a good place for families, for people and businesses to invest time and capital and prosper, for all individuals to gain greater educational standing, whilst so much of the non-Christian world near to you, in spite of its oil wealth, is sadly trapped.
My prayer for all South Sudanese is for better in 2017, and faith in your future, faith in the potential goodness in all human beings, and faith in the healing power of love. May you, in your love, bless one another.
In Easter we will gain a glimpse of the enormity of God’s forgiving generous love which allows reconciliation and redemption where it seems impossible, but for now, for this Christmas, God’s love comes into being in a simple and pure form as our Christ-child, and all we need to do is welcome it again into our lives.
That you do so in your distress is an inspiration to me. That you celebrate Christmas helps me to push away my worries and doubts, so petty in comparison to yours, and do the same. Thank you.
And may Christmas bring you peace and joy.
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