By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us . . . to guide our feet into the way of peace. — Luke 1:78-79
During this season of Advent, we wait expectantly for the coming of Christ. We long for God’s justice, peace and mercy to be fully revealed on earth. In the midst of the world’s brokenness, we mourn with all who suffer, in Syria, Beirut, Paris, San Bernardino and across the globe.
In these difficult times, we reaffirm our commitment to the way of Jesus.
In the face of fear, we proclaim our commitment to hospitality. Just as Jesus offered table fellowship to all, we call on church members to welcome immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers into our communities and homes. Over the years, many Anabaptists have come to the United States seeking refuge. We can do no less for those who are in need. We call on the U.S. government to keep the doors open to refugees and asylum seekers and to work toward more just and humane immigration policies.
In the face of scarcity, we proclaim our commitment to generosity. Thanks to the generosity of church members, Mennonite Central Committee is providing assistance to Syrians affected by the war, including food, shelter, blankets and fuel. We call on church members to continue to give generously to all those in need. We urge the international community, including the U.S. government, to provide much more generous humanitarian assistance to people impacted by the crisis in Syria and Iraq.
In the face of violence, we proclaim our commitment to peace. As followers of the Prince of Peace, we believe that our weapons and use of military might are making our communities and our nation less secure. We call on church members to work for peace in their own communities. We support common-sense gun laws to prevent gun deaths and injuries in the United States. We oppose continued U.S. military involvement in Syria and Iraq and urge the U.S. government to devote its resources instead to a negotiated, political solution.
In the face of hatred, we proclaim our commitment to love. Taking seriously Jesus’ call to love our neighbors, we stand alongside our Muslim neighbors and friends in this country and around the world. Rather than giving in to stereotypes and prejudices, we call on church members to build bridges with our Muslim neighbors and work together for peace. We condemn the use of hateful and divisive rhetoric from political and religious leaders and urge them to support religious freedom for people of all faiths.
As we celebrate Advent this year, we remember that the long-awaited Savior came as a vulnerable child who became a refugee and as the Prince of Peace who disavowed the use of military might. Rather than giving in to fear, scarcity, violence and hate, may our lives show the incarnate reality of the Christ child among us.
J Ron Byler is executive director of Mennonite Central Committee U.S.