“Glory to God in the highest and on earth Peace and goodwill to all in whom God is pleased”
Dear Ecumenical colleagues
Christmas Season has come again! It is with great joy that I take this opportunity to wish all the Churches, other NCCI constituencies, leaders, and staff of NCCI a Blessed Christmas and along with it a Happy New Year. On behalf of NCCI, I convey my greetings to all our global colleagues and partners also. Let us thankfully remember that this is the first Christmas in the New Quadrennium of NCCI
It is commonly observed that we forget the meaning of festivals while we indulge in the extravaganza of the festival. We send greetings cards, share sweets, buy expensive clothes, decorate our homes, offices and streets and organize parties and other celebrations. Thus Christmas for many people is a festival of Christmas cards, Christmas trees, Christmas stars and lights, Christmas cakes and Santa. In the western country where Christmas was celebrated with all pomp and show, a survey was taken among the teenagers. Only 7% of them knew that it was the birthday of Jesus Christ! So, it is time to revisit the real meaning of Christmas. Cards, Cakes, Trees, Carols and Santa are only insignificant accessories, though they give us the ambience of celebration.
Let us continue to proclaim that Christmas is the unique expression of God’s love, and God’s own initiative of saving God’s creation through self-emptying, and God’s assurance of God’s presence with us. God is travelling with us in our life’s journey as a companion providing us with our needs, sharing our joys and sorrows, comforting us and healing us, above all, guiding us in our everyday life. When God is with us we will have peace and joy in our hearts, in our homes, in our community and in our nation.
The word of God says that God sent God’s son when the time was ripe. “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,” Galatians 4.4 (NIV) It did not mean that all situations were congenial. It meant just the opposite. The people of God were in darkness under the Roman oppression. The morale of the people were at the lowest. For a long time there were no clear messages from God to guide people. People were in utter darkness.
Our situations globally and nationally is that of darkness. Countries all over the world are under the threat of regional wars and terrorism. No country is a safe place at all. Poverty is still looming all over the world. Nationally, we are in Darkness of Demonetization and the Depression which has followed it. Demonetization crisis affected all of us except the affluent few and the politically supported few. A large group who did not have bank accounts suffered the most. People were dying standing in the bank queues and being unable to buy medicines to sustain their lives.
Soon, an educational policy may come into force where minority institutions will have to face many challenges especially related to the curtailment of freedom provided in the constitution. We need to be seriously concerned about the future of our vision and mission to spread the Good News to the whole humanity.
We know that we are no more people of darkness but of light. As the Bible says, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9.2. (NIV). The Lord’s birth has brought light into our lives and turned our lives to light and hope. We have become a people of hope” Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. Zachariah 9.12 (NIV). Or again, “But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD, ‘because you are called an outcast.” Jeremiah 30.17 (NIV)
We know that we have to be active participants in nation building. We should not be cowed down by our minority complex. In the area of service to the nation through education, health care and ministry to people in the margin we are a “majority”. Let us be a people of hope and courage and work towards the transformation of our country by firmly continuing these and other services.
Let us thank God for the Lutheran Church in India and all over the world which is celebrating 500 years of reformation initiated by Martin Luther. Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church have decided to forgive each other for their divided existence for 500 years! Pope Francis went to Sweden to attend the joint celebration of the 500th anniversary. Let us also work for more unity among Indian Churches transcending the barriers of denominational feelings.
Let us continue to uphold the cause of NCCI and all its ministries. Please remember to observe unity octave and NCCI Sunday on 22nd January, 2017. I request all Churches to take a special offertory on NCCI Sunday and send it to NCCI office .
Let us celebrate Christmas by sharing our joy and resources with our neighbours, especially with those who cannot afford to celebrate. In the new year, let us renew our covenant faithfully with our Lord, our fellow beings and with the mother earth whose stewards we are. Let us regularly pray for peace all over the world, especially in the Middle East.
My wife Nora and our children Piyush and Priyanka join me in sending you season greetings and warm regards. We remember you in prayer.
The Rt. Rev. Dr. P. C. Singh
National Council of Churches in India