Oh, how we need this peace in our world today!
The story of Advent outlines the real presence of God in the world in and through the life of Jesus Christ.
The miraculous conception and birth of our Saviour, the testimonies of heavenly heralds and earthly witnesses attest to the connectedness between heaven and Earth, between the realms of the eternal and the temporal, and between God and human beings. God in Jesus Christ, was reconciling the world to himself, thus breaking down the barriers between the two and ushering “on Earth, peace to those on whom his favour rests”. (Luke 2: 14)
The coming of Jesus Christ into the world is the result of the implementation of God’s plan to bring us closer to God and to each other. The peace for which Jesus is the Champion Prince is that which is extended to us through the forgiveness of our sins against God. It is also the source of the bond which we share with each other. Both of these truths are profound and life-changing realities. As children of God, we are both promoters and practitioners of peace.
Oh, how we need this peace in our world today! The absence of peace in many homes and families, in numerous communities, and on many of our streets has come at a high price in both economic and psycho-social respects. Our nation has seen continued high levels of homicide which leave families ravaged and impoverished and communities cowering in fear.
Many among us have suffered the horrors of gender-based violence, intimate partner violence and domestic violence. Many of our children have been killed and abused. We lament the high levels of disrespect and incivility which too many of us display. The disregard for and departure from sound traditions of the past and best practices, which are shown by some of our leaders, compound the growing levels of apathy, belligerence, and cynicism which many of our people display toward structure and order.
We need to hear and heed the message of Advent and the promise of Christmas once again. We can have right relationships with God and harmonious relationships with each other. In such relationships no one loses and everyone wins. This is so because the promotion and practice of peace means that we protect our relationships with and look out for the well-being of our neighbours. It also means that we strive for the wholeness of all members of our families, our communities and our nation. Therefore, the peace-makers are active participants in the reign of God.
We fulfil this calling when we help the least and the left-out, create environments for dialogue between antagonists, and stand up for the protection of the weak and vulnerable. This is the main thrust of God’s agenda, to which we must be fully committed and in which we must be fully engaged.
May this be a fence-mending, peace-making, and love-sharing Christmas for all Jamaicans, at home and abroad. May we share genuine love and care for each other and strengthen the authentic relationships that exists between and amongst us.
Bishop Christine Gooden-Benguche
Jamaica Council of Churches