From the Obispo Maximo of the Iglesia Filipina Independiente and Chairperson of the National Concil of Churches
“ I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all people for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Jesus Christ the Lord ”
Each time a year rolls by with its blessing and its banes, our hopes are renewed by the annual observance of the birth of “a Savior, who is Jesus Christ the Lord.” His birth was a deliberate act of God’s mercy (Titus 3:5), a demonstration of God’s love for us (John 3:16), and towards the fulfillment of abundant life for all (John 10:10).
That God purposed a humble birth for Jesus Christ the Lord is a sobering thought in these our days. That God chose to announce the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord first to the shepherds , the lowliest of all workers affirm s the arrival of the Prince of peace and justice spoken by the prophets. That angels would be sent to announce the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord is a declaration of God’s glory that we can now behold in the Son.
As we witness the flight of people to the safety of distant lands, as we witness the birth of succeeding generations in hostile surroundings, as we witness the uprising of the lowly and marginalized to declare the truth, all the more urgent is the call to proclaim the reign of God. For while it has been said that Jesus came to “his own who knew him not”, it has also been said that “to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” (John 1:10-12). Thus, while God’s salvation is a gift, those of us who receive that gift are to encourage one another until all confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord (Phil 2:11).
This Christmas, we bid you pray for a more hospitable humanity, for new resolves to protect our fragile world, and for an end to the oppression and violence that subject us to misery.
“For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all people, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.” (Titus 2:11-14).
The Most Reverend Ephraim Fajutagana
Obispo Maximo XII,
Iglesia Filipina Independiente
Chairperson, National Council of Churches of the Philippines (NCCP)
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From the National Director the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches
Christmas Brings Real Peace
“Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom His favour rests.” (Luke 2:14)
This was the doxology of the angelic hosts on the night of the first Christmas at the announcement of the birth of the Messiah.
The Christmas story is about ‘peace on earth.’ God is reconciling Himself to people who have sinned against Him and offers peace that transcends human limitations. God took the initiative by sending His only begotten Son, Jesus, who paid the penalty of sin, that all who trust in Him may be forgiven and have new life with God. This is the peace of God.
This ‘transcendent peace’ is also most important because it opens our hearts and minds to a reality of peace beyond what this world gives. The world offers pseudo-peace: supposed peace through cessation of wars; through suppression or repression by force; through economic manipulation and development aggression; and, supposed peace and prosperity through the destruction of nature. The Christmas story tells us that God’s peace became a human being in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Through Jesus, the peace of God became immanent — with us. This ‘immanent peace’ is the Peace of Christ, characterized by love. The public expression of this love is justice. The Peace of Christ is justice-based.
All of us are invited into this peace by allowing ourselves to be embraced by God’s Spirit. The fruit of God’s Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). These are universal values. No human law exists that prohibits these values.
We need this transcendent-immanent peace as we face the New Year, especially as we face the great challenge to choose our next set of national leaders. In the Bible, we are told of a great leader called Moses. He had an adviser named Jethro who said: “Select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens” (Exodus 18:21). The wisdom from this statement can be applied in our context. Our national leaders must be wisely selected, capable, transparent, God-fearing, trustworthy, hates dishonest gain, efficient, and effective.
May the Spirit of God embrace us all this Christmas and the coming New Year with the transcendent-immanent Peace of Christ as we allow God to use us to help transform our nation.
Bishop Noel A. Pantoja
National Director, Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches – PCEC