By Lisa Zengarini
In his 2020 Christmas message, World Council of Churches (WCC) interim general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Ioan Sauca has invited Christians and all people on earth to look up in hope, even if “there are many reasons to be afraid and to live in despair” today, reminding that “in the most difficult days of history”, Christians have, time and time again, found consolation “in the good news of the birth of Jesus Christ that begins with the birth of the Saviour in Bethlehem”.
A Christmas in times of pandemic
“Celebrations of Christmas in churches and families this year will be tempered by the physical distancing and other restrictions brought on by our concern to protect each other from the Coronavirus. People will grieve for the many dead around the world”, the message reads. “The pandemic has everywhere torn the social fabric, causing massive unemployment and even hunger, rending our connections to each other, revealing and exacerbating inequalities, raising havoc and dissent, and threatening institutions of good governance”, Rev. Sauca adds, noting that: “At the same time, violence and war continue, destroying the livelihoods of people with increasing numbers of refugees and migrants and killing so many men, women and children”.
People of hope
However, the message stresses that, even under these circumstances, Christians can glimpse in “the birth of the child Jesus in a desolate village at the margins of the Roman empire, the fragile beginnings of our own redemption”. “As people of hope, we glimpse in the birth of Jesus God’s ‘yes’ to life, and the birth of new possibility, new life triumphing over death and despair”, Rev. Sauca writes. “The Incarnation is God’s decisive ‘yes’ to humanity and creation”.
Sauca also lifts up in prayer the people and leadership of WCC member churches, and all people on earth: “In a world of pain and death, the event of Christmas allows us to find consolation, lift our heads in hope, and glimpse in deep faith the triumph of life and love in the birth of Jesus,” he concludes. “This is good news of great joy for all people.”