Christmas Message by The Most Revd Suheil S. Dawani

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I write this message from the Holy City of Jerusalem to wish you a peaceful Advent, as we journey together towards the Incarnation in a stable in Bethlehem.

The message of the Prince of Peace is dear to us, and so important for us to meditate and reflect on throughout our earthly pilgrimage.  In this Diocese, I have called all to reflect on their ministries, recognizing that situations are not easy: in Syria people pace extraordinary difficulties.  We have had to close our church - I hope temporarily - in Damascus.  In Jordan the church's understanding of hospitality - as throughout Europe and the world - is challenged in welcoming the refugee: to welcome the stranger is to welcome Christ in our midst (Matt 25:33).  In Lebanon we are challenged again to respond with compassion in the wake of horrific violence in November.  And in Palestine and Israel, we are called daily to seek and pray for peace between Palestinian and Israeli.

Advent is a time of preparation for the coming of Christ, when we ready ourselves for His presence revealed in the world.  The Prince of Peace teaches us to serve and shoes is that through the Holy Spirit we must not give up hope when thinks seem hopeless; that in the face of violence we must not be tempted to hate, but that we must have compassion.  The Prince of Peace shows us what healing is, between neighbors and between communities. I pray daily for those who grieve, that the Holy Spirit, the comforter (John 14:26), may grant then solace and healing in their hearts.

As part of our discipline of prayer here in Jerusalem, we have invited our friends, far and near, to use at the beginning of Advent and on Christmas Eve as special litany, which is set our below.  This litany was written as the troubles here in Jerusalem escalated and I believe can be used in this Diocese and adapted for other places where there is conflict, pain, and suffering.

I pray that God is with you, your families and your friends this Advent and Christmastide that He may inspire you in your ministry, wherever you may be.  May Christ sow a seed of love in your heart that pours out in abundance (2 Cor.9:6) through your life.

Grace and peace,

The Most Revd Suheil S. Dawani
Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem
Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem & the Middle East

A Litany for Peace in the Holy Land

This litany has evolved out of prayers said daily in the Cathedral Church of St George-the-Martyr, Jerusalem, as a result of the tensions, violence, paranoia and fear that has swept through Jerusalem and is continuing to affect the entire region since October 2015.

O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

All: Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

All: Have mercy upon us.

O Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world,

All: Grant us your peace.

Lord, have mercy.

All: Christ, have mercy.

Lord, have mercy.

Heavenly Father, we thank you for the birth in Bethlehem of the Word made flesh, your Son, Jesus Christ; who dwelt among us full of grace and truth.

For your love and your goodness

All: We give you thanks, O God

We thank you for his life; his death here in Jerusalem as he carried our sins and suffering, and for his glorious Resurrection in which he gave us new life with him.

For your love and your goodness

All: We give you thanks, O God

We thank you for entrusting to us the ministry of forgiveness, reconciliation and peace-making for the healing of your creation.

For your love and your goodness

All: We give you thanks, O God

We pray for all victims of bloodshed, violence, and persecution. We especially pray for all in danger and those fleeing persecution in the Holy Land, and throughout the Middle East.

Lord, hear our prayer

All: And let our cry come unto you

We pray for all who grieve for those they have loved and lost as a result of violence, particularly those grieving in Palestine and Israel.

Lord, hear our prayer

All: And let our cry come unto you

We pray for the Holy Spirit to guide all leaders, especially on those who lead the peoples in the Land of the Holy One, the United Nations and upon all in authority, so Your people may seek ways of peace and justice.

Lord, hear our prayer

All: And let our cry come unto you

Heavenly Father, we praise and glorify you. You are our only refuge in a troubled world.

Lord, hear our prayer

All: And let our cry come unto you

The Lord be with you.

All: And also with you.

Let us pray.

All: Lord God Almighty, you have made all the peoples of the earth for your glory, to serve you in freedom and in peace: Give to us and the people of all the nations a zeal for justice and the strength of forbearance, that all of your people may use their liberty in accordance with your gracious will; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

 


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