God of Life, lead us to justice and peace
Written by The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black
December 11, 2013

Greetings United Church of Christ family,

During this Advent season and as Christmas approaches, my thoughts turn to my recent experience as a UCC delegate to the General Assembly of the World Council of Churches in Busan, South Korea. I was there with a contingent of delegates, visitors and other participants from the United Church of Christ. For eleven days we were part of a community of Christians from every region and almost every country in the world. 

There was diversity in language, complexion, dress, gender, sexual orientation, theological and ecclesiological outlook and more. However, one thing we all had in common for sure was the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The theme of the Assembly was a simple prayer: "God of life, lead us to justice and peace." No doubt this prayer is resonating with all of us, now back in our home countries, shaping the experience of this season of anticipation and celebration. It expresses the desire of faithful people everywhere for peace, peace that cannot be realized without justice as its companion.

This year, Advent and Christmas come as our nation only prepares to extricate itself from a protracted war in Afghanistan.  Within nations like Syria and the Congo there is civil war. Here in the United States and elsewhere there is the persistent recurrence of gun-related violence in small towns like Newtown Connecticut, and in cities and suburbs. These realities and so many others make it difficult at times to find peace of heart, mind or spirit. We are painfully aware that throughout the world peace eludes humanity.

Of course, peace is not just a matter of cessation of violence and hostility among nations or within nations, nor is it simply a matter of peace of mind. True peace is the presence of well-being and justice in all of creation.  Still, "Peace on Earth and good will to all" is proclaimed in the Gospel as the angel announces the  birth of Jesus.  Peace on earth has been the yearning of Christians and others throughout the ages. So it remains today.

Like so many of us, those who gathered from around the world in Busan for the WCC Assembly are now preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus with the prayer theme from Busan emblazoned on our hearts and minds. Along with that is the realization that we are partners in a vast global community that shares in prayer and prodding, organizing, agitating and building for peace.

In our many different ways and even on different days, throughout the nations there will be those who will honor the birth of the child who became the man Jesus. He is the one who affirmed the peacemakers as blessed and promised a peace that surpasses all human understanding. He is the one who is yet leading the way to justice and peace and who and invites us to follow him.

Empowered by the Holy Spirit may we be so bold as to do just that. May this Christmas be blessed with hope and the spirit of peace.

Yours, in the joy of the season,

Geoffrey A. Black
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

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