A Christmas Message from Thomas Kemper
For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire. For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:5-6)
On behalf of the General Board of Global Ministries, thank you for all you do to share God's love and light throughout the world. Through our work, together we are building a path that Isaiah prophesized--a radical path to liberation, peace, and justice. A path that is possible because of the birth of a small and helpless child. The light of the world lies in the hands of someone as powerless as a newborn baby. All authority rests upon these innocent, small shoulders, promising light--not darkness; life--not death; peace--not war; and freedom instead of oppression.
In a world filled with violence and destruction, I am always grateful for those moments when I catch a glimpse of the peace of the Christ child. Where in your life are you seeing glimpses of this vision? I saw a glimpse in my recent visit to Japan where the church is responding to the tsunami, earthquake, and nuclear disaster that shook the country in March. I saw a glimpse at the Asia Rural Institute, where in spite of challenges they are continuing to plant for abundant harvests in health, justice, and peace. I saw a glimpse in Côte d'Ivoire at the funeral of our missionary Isaac Agré, where hundreds of people filled the church in a celebration of his life. Isaac lived each day with a spirit of hospitality and graciousness and was a wonderful example of how we are truly connected in living out God's mission in this world.
I've seen glimpses when I heard Leymah Gbowee a few months ago on the day she received the Nobel Peace Prize. She stood in our Interchurch Center New York City chapel and told her life story--how women in Liberia and the Women's Network for Peace started to work and to stand up against the violence and the soldiers with nothing else but "to pray the devil away," which is the name of a moving film that tells the story of her movement in Liberia. And do we dare to glimpse Isaiah's vision in Zuccotti Park, where protestors slept for months in fragile tents and people pedaled bicycles to create some energy for the occupiers? These people occupied Wall Street with huge skyscrapers behind the tiny tents--a big sign of the wealth and the might in this world. Is this a glimpse showing us that from our fragile tents and our weakness can come something new?
What a mighty vision of the end of violence and oppression through the birth of this tiny human being. The life of the world is in the hands of a newborn baby. It seems unbelievable--too radical. We struggle with this message. And yet the prophet says that the world cannot be changed by power and might, but through a helpless baby who is full of innocence and vulnerability.
May God help us to make this dream our dream and to be part of it in the way we live and act. We here at Global Ministries are called to work across the world in a way that is in the light of the vision of Isaiah. And we are called--each one of us--to let the child be born in us. Let the child be born in us, so that we are transformed internally--from within--because God is born in us. A child is born.
In mission and ministry together,
Thomas G. Kemper
Date posted: Dec 16, 2011