WCC Christmas Message 2023

Christmas Message of the World Council of Churches, December 2023: What Is This Light?

What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it –John 1:3-5

In so many ways we, and our whole world, are living through a time of darkness, when mounting challenges threaten to diminish our hope, to overwhelm our will to meet the evident needs and palpable pains of our day, and even to sap our dedication to truth and justice.

Yet, as disciples of Jesus and as Christian communities united in Christ’s love, we are called to stand up to fear, counter falsehood, challenge selfishness and greed, and offer hope to the whole world.

We cannot acquiesce in disappointment nor succumb to despair. The world needs more from us— more courage, more creativity, more inspiration and dedication. More self-giving love.

From where do we source such energy and life?

Remarkably, we Christians find that strength in the birth of a weak and vulnerable baby, born 2,000 years ago into poverty at the far edge of empire in Bethlehem, Palestine, soon to be endangered by evil powers and displaced in exile.

In this poor child we recognize the heir of the great Jewish prophetic tradition of justice, the one who proclaimed God’s nearness and our dearness, the one in whom his followers came to see the very image of God and the promise of a New Creation.

In his birth, we welcome God’s own Son now immanent, the epiphany of God embodied in our humanity, sharing our nature and lifting us to share in his. He is Immanuel – God with us forever.

No wonder the angels sing, the shepherds kneel, and the very stars shine brightly.

Our celebration of the birth of Jesus is thus our defiance of despair, our yes to life and hope. He is our light in a time of darkness, enabling us to live for the truth and to strive for the redemption of the world.

Children of the light, we will not settle, nor let others settle, for a world lethally scarred by violence, seared by heat, or darkened by fear. We will not acquiesce in the devolution of democracies nor the misuse of religion nor pandering to prejudice.

Therefore, as we, Christians everywhere celebrate the birth of the Messiah—God’s countersign to a world that sometimes seems bent on self-destruction—we in the World Council of Churches share with you our heartfelt joy. We redouble our resolve to labour tirelessly with you for the health and healing of the sick, a fair economy, the well-being of migrants and displaced people, peace and security for all, the advancement of human rights and dignity, deeper community in faith, and the flowering of justice for women, for children, for the earth itself.

So let us rejoice! The light of Christ promises to banish our darkness. May it brighten our spirits and warm our hearts. May it light our way, illuminating our journey to wholeness, to authentic discipleship, to justice and to peace on earth. May the love and light of Jesus fill our hearts and lives this Christmas and always!

Blessings and peace in Christ,

Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay 
General Secretary 
World Council of Churches

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