Dear Family and Friends:
As we prepare to celebrate the 8th Christmas since we began our mission service appointment, in support of the witness of the Christian Churches of the Holy Land, we send you warm greetings from Bethlehem, where we are based.
We reflect with wonder, joy, and awe upon the mystery of incarnation, where God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” Indeed, we continue to marvel at God’s ongoing mighty acts in human history, as we are physically surrounded by a landscape that recalls the voices of prophets, angels, shepherds, disciples, apostles, gospel writers, martyrs, and saints. We live and interact daily with visionaries, witnesses to the truth, proclaimers of good news, heralds of justice, workers for peace, and living saints. Daily, too, we reach out to, and receive blessings from, neighbors in faith.
And, yes, we also existentially know and feel the misery of two peoples who are victim of injurious histories; two peoples of disparate and unbalanced power and means, who are divided by walls of distrust, hostility, conflicting ideologies, and racial prejudice; two peoples who are in desperate need of reconciliation, yet impotent to make the leap to the promised land of peace.
The idyllic scene depicted in the old romantic photo above belies the daily realities of this “little town of Bethlehem,” congested with high-rises and denuded of most of its olive trees. and the bigger picture of the “Holy Land,” for that matter. For we witness the bizarre and chaotic manifestation of those realities and are often involuntarily subjected to the multiple stresses of this traumatized and troubled land, a land whose holiness cries out for restoration.
We claim no heroic powers to change this dire situation, or even the bravery to cope with its challenges on our own. It is only our faith in a God whose mighty power and boundless grace are still at work in human history that fortifies our hope; it is the perseverance and steadfastness of the faithful community of believers that inspire our courage; and it is the prayers and support of our dear friends – near and far – that sustain our patience and revive our resolve to not lose heart.
We light the candles of Advent, and gaze at the brilliance of the Christmas garlands to remind us that “it is the God who said ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
And so, may you also be filled with the joy of this good news: that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, that with the eyes of faith we have seen His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth.
Victor and Sara Makari serve with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America with the Diyar Consortium of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land. Her appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.