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Message of Archbishop Janis Vanags in Christmas 2011
posted: 2011.12.30 10:05 write to the editor 

Each day comes with new news, which are even not new. We are used to the fact, that when listening to the news in the morning or opening newspapers, a wave of unsafety rolls over us. What will the new day bring? What will happen in a month? In a year?

Won’t we have to face the same situation as Joseph and Mary whose time to give birth to a child came when they were far from their home, traveling and without roof over their heads? Unsafety is not a good setting for a child to enter the world. Feeling of unsafety is the main reason why so few children are being born in Latvia. Not only uncertainty about the income and work in the future, but also uncertainty about one’s willingness to take up commitments, to get married, to become a family, to be parents. Children nowadays seem to be a burden and cross to many.

However, the Christmas day came with good news: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” An angel brought this news to shepherds in the field, but they could not understand the message. They said to one another: “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” May be it is not easy also for us to understand why is Christ’s birth good news? How can it help us during these uncertain times? If so, then let us say to ourselves as shepherds did: „I will go and see what God has wanted to tell me with this.” Indeed, the true wonder of Christmas does not lie on the surface. To reach the great joy, one has to walk the path of acknowledgement and trust.

In the town of Bethlehem a Savior has been born to us, or in modern language – Redeemer. We usually start explaining this with the great and eternal: those who believe and get baptized, Jesus releases from the fate to become condemned by God’s judgment. The love of God gave us his only Son, so that for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is now no condemnation. Whoever hears his word and believes him who sent Jesus, has eternal life. He will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. It is good news indeed, which helps to think peacefully about death. Together with Jesus we can walk towards death with confidence, that peace and bliss together with God awaits us after it.

However in daily life our thoughts are much more preoccupied with how to go through this week, this day. Can Jesus save also from the unsafety in front of the earthly life? When seeing the worries of his disciples, each time Jesus says – don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid ... He does not promise to protect from hardships. He does not promise that nothing will be taken from them. He does not free from occupation and does not transform political system. Instead, he allows to experience peace and safety in his presence. Those who walked together with Jesus, had almost nothing. They knew nothing of their future. Nevertheless they lived full-blooded and zealously. Together with Christ they lived in a way as if each loss would be already made up a hundred times. One of them, John, later wrote: “Fear has to do with punishment. Perfect love drives out fear.” Becoming to love Christ, we experience that He is the most valuable thing and heart rests in Him. When love towards Christ is perfect, there is nothing to fear of, because everything that gives comfort and joy to one’s life, is in Him. No one can take Him away. It is enough with Him. It is impossible to explain or prove, one can only experience it. Certainly, there is always a long road ahead to reach the perfect love. Let us also go to Bethlehem to experience what has happened and what God has given to us. May God free us from fear to live a real life.

Jesus was born in a cattle-shed and was lying in a manger, however, it is most important that he was born awaited and loved. Joseph and Mary had clarified all things between themselves, there was no more place for suspicion and doubt. They wanted to live with God and with one another and to bring up Jesus as well as they could. Nowadays they are being called – holy family. Let us pray this Christmas may also our doubt and unsafety step back in the presence of Christ. May there are again in our country many weddings and families which could be called holy. May children who still await their birth, come into this world awaited and loved, even if it were in a cattle-shed or a manger. May they grow with God and bring joy and blessing in return for their parents’ care. May our path turn towards life!

Sincerely yours,

+ Jānis

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