Photo Credit: Diocese of Egypt
[ACNS, by staff writer] The Archbishop of South Sudan, Justin Badi Arama, used his Christmas Day sermon in All Saints’ Cathedral, Juba, to call on Christians in the country to give themselves “as a gift of love to others - as a gift of reconciliation, as a gift of forgiveness, as a gift of encouragement.”
The Vatican published a joint letter to South Sudan’s political leaders on Christmas Day signed by Pope Francis, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, and the former Moderator of the Church of Scotland, John Chalmers. In it, the three church leaders said: “we wish to offer you and the South-Sudanese people the best wishes for peace and prosperity, ensuring our closeness to your efforts for the prompt implementation of the Peace Agreements.
“We therefore raise our prayers to Christ the Saviour for a renewed commitment on the path of reconciliation and fraternity and we invoke abundant blessings on each of you and on the whole nation.”
In Chile, at the end of a year which saw widespread protests and conflict throughout the country, thousands of Christians took part in an outdoor prayer and worship service in the National Stadium on 28 December, under the banner Marcha por Jesús (March for Jesus). The Anglican Church of Chile said that it was an opportunity for Christians from all over the country to “pray and worship for Chile with the aim of interceding for the nation and praising together to God.”
Organisers said: “We believe that Chile needs more of Jesus, and that only the love of Jesus can heal, unite and bring the peace that Chile needs.”
In Egypt, religious extremists used social media outlets to warn Muslims not to participate in Christmas celebrations. Around 100 Muslims responded to the threat by “actively participating” in a candlelit event at All Saints Cathedral in Cairo. “We were touched when a group of our Muslim friends suggested that they participate in candlelight Christmas carols”, Bishop Mouneer Anis said.
“The candlelight Christmas carols were led by Dalia who is a Muslim physician and a gifted singer”, he added. “I was asked to give a short Christmas message which was about God’s love incarnated in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ who also revealed God to us.
“Everyone was happy and at the end of the service gathered around a cup of tea and many selfies were taken.”