Lectionary Selection: John 1:10-18
Prayers for Israel/Palestine:
O Son of God, begotten of the Father before all things began, God of God, Light of Light, we praise and glorify you for taking upon yourself our human form and coming to live among us. We thank you for your light that shines in our dark and troubled world. We rejoice in the promise that your light has forever overcome the darkness of sin and evil. May this be fulfilled in our land that we may again see your glory. Come, Lord Jesus, come. Amen.
Mission Stewardship Moment from Israel/Palestine:
In Bethlehem, the Christmas season is a non-stop progressive feast! It is celebrated by the Catholic and Protestant Churches on the 25th of December, the Greek and Oriental Orthodox Churches on the 6th and 7th of January, and the Armenian Orthodox Church on the 19th of January. Sara and I have just celebrated our 8th Christmas since we began our mission service appointment in support of the witness of the Christian Churches of the Holy Land, and it has once again revived our spirits with the reality that the God who once entered history in the flesh for the salvation of the world will continue to intervene with miraculous power and grace for the redemption of creation and the liberation of humankind.
On this day of Epiphany, we continue to reflect with wonder, joy, and awe upon the mystery of incarnation, where God’s Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Indeed, we marvel at God’s ongoing mighty acts, 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 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 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 images romanticizing “the little town of Bethlehem” belie the daily realities of a town now congested with high-rises and denuded of most of its olive trees, and of the bigger picture of the “Holy Land,” for that matter. For we witness the bizarre and chaotic manifestation of those realities and, along with our neighbors, 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.
With renewed resolve, we have lit the candles of Advent, and gazed 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, we pray that you may 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.
Prayer and Mission Moment by Victor Makari
Mission Partners in Israel/Palestine:
More information on Israel/Palestine: https://www.globalministries.org/israel_palestine
Global Ministries Mission Co-worker in Israel/Palestine:
Rev. Victor Makari serves the Diyar Consortium in Israel/Palestine. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.