Joy to the World, Jesus is Born`
On this blessed Season, all of us here in the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon (NESSL), and specially the General Secretary the Rev Fadi Dagher, want to wish you the most blessed Christmas. May your life, and your church, and the world be filled with peace, joy, love, and hope. May the one born on Christmas day, be born a new in our world.
Jesus, the king of peace was born and laid down in a manger, suffered cold and poverty. Who better can feel with the thousands of children now staying in muddy shelters suffering cold and hunger.
We praise God for all of you who showed love and care and supported the Syrian children experiencing utmost poverty, and lack of comfort. The only brightness those children will see is the brightness of the stars in the sky. Your help of them has brought them a glimpse of hope. Thank you.
It was a hope filled seen yesterday when in a church in Aleppo there was a prayer for Syria to experience the peace of the Prince of peace whom we’ll soon celebrate his birth in a humble place, in Bethlehem, Christian and Muslim leaders prayed together for the peace of God to overshadow Syria.
Last week I visited Syria, and heard so many painful stories. “Alexa storm” frightened all with its severe cold and the available heating oil in Syria is minimal. So many cut trees to heat their cold homes. I met a person who looked sad and told that he was going to ask forgiveness and apologize to the tree in their garden. When I inquired, what did he mean, he said I am going to cut the tree in the garden to warm the feet of my children. He continued sadly, I who love nature am going to cut a tree! I told him, you will be forgiven for sure.
Indeed, NESSL has responded to the requests of the churches in Syria sending funds for families to allow them purchase heating oil, thus, funds (150,000 Syrian Lira [SL], which equals roughly $1325) were transferred to churches to help every family that is displaced buy 200 liters (about 53 gal.) to start with. The Aleppo church alone was given the amount of SL 250,000 (roughly $2210) for the same as requested by the pastor.
During the meeting of the committee a request from the director of the NESSL relief program, was read, where he explained the great need to help families renting temporary places with the rent cost. The committee was convinced that this is a great need that cannot be overlooked. So the decision was made to pay SL 7500 (about $66) for every rented home for the year 2014. And requested the session with the pastor in every church and the director of the program to implement that according to the need of every family.
On the other hand our churches in Lebanon launched a project called “Sweaters and Scarves” to collect warm clothes for the people in the camps. On Sunday our pastor told us that he was unable to sleep for the last two nights thinking that we in comfortable beds are feeling so cold, what about those in the camps of misery? What is happening to the children?
Indeed we all look up to the king of peace, Jesus the Christ who has experienced cold and poverty to have compassion and bring this tragedy to an end.
And while the nature has no compassion the violence on the ground in Syria is getting more violent. The stories of crime against families are daily news. Whenever the Army gains battles in some areas, the innocent civilians get punished by the armed groups.
The discoveries of common graves after every battle make one feel so sick. We keep asking how can a person be so criminal against another?
Finally, as we wait for the birth of Christ, often like John in his prison ask “Are you the one who is to come or shall we wait for another?”
Despite the fact that Jesus knew the situation of John and his desperation he did not give him a direct answer. Indeed the one coming is the other. Not coming with the sword, as some time we wish, rather the coming is coming to give himself as a sacrifice for the world. He is the other who will give life to the world. And blessed is who will not take offense at Him. May we all not take offense Him!!
As we wait to see many of you in the January Consultation we hope you stay well.
Dear Friends and great Partners, We wish you a very Happy Christmas and every blessing for the New Year!
Sincerely in His service.
[The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) continue to offer support for the work of many partners in the region, including the NESSL, to provide humanitarian response to the needs of Syrian refugees. Please consider supporting the work of Global Ministries’ partners’ relief efforts in and around Syria. You can do that through One Great Hour of Sharing (UCC), the Week of Compassion (Disciples), or through Global Ministries directly.]
*Dr. Mary Mikhael is a staffperson for the National Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon, the immediate past president of the Near East School of Theology, and a former meber of the Common Global Ministries Board of Directors.