From Bishop Park: On Violence and Christmas

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Bishop's Letter Header
December 4, 2015
“The virgin will
be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel –
which means, ‘God with us.'”
(Matthew 1:23)
“Do not be
afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be
for all people.”
(Luke 2:10)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
Another horrible tragedy has struck us. Too many are dying and
hurting yet again because of acts of violence, terror, and hatred. Our hearts
go out to the families and the loved ones of the innocent victims of the
diabolic attacks in San Bernardino, California this past Wednesday. As our
hearts are broken, they are in our prayers as we share their shock, pain and
There is so much about the Christmas story that parallels the
brokenness and despair of our world. We read some familiar scriptures in the
season of Advent and realize that these readings carry within them much of
the very same fears and pains that are evident and prevalent in the world
today. The names are different, some of the places have changed; but the
anguish and struggles are just as real.  No sooner was Jesus born that
we read of the attempt by Herod to kill him.  Joseph takes Jesus and
Mary to Egypt seeking refuge. However, every other male child two years of
age or younger in Bethlehem was slaughtered.


Acts of terror and hatred have no place in this world. However,
every religious faith has unfortunately had followers who have absolutely
abused the intentions of their sacred scriptures and made their particular
ideology into something that is pure evil.  Indeed, evil is as real in
our world today as it was thousands of years ago.
Yet, in this Advent/Christmas season I pray that, as United
Methodists of the Susquehanna Conference, we would rise to the highest and
best within us. Let us continue to pray for this broken and hurting world and
for God’s peace to prevail and God’s love to be made known through the
generous acts of God’s people. Let us continue to be hospitable to those who
desire nothing more than basic human needs for themselves and their families.
For all that you are doing individually and collectively as a church
community to bring the reign of God on earth as it is in heaven, I am indeed
profoundly grateful.
Truly we must continue to pray for the assurance and comfort of
God to surround all of humanity this year. We especially pray for those
persons who have lost their loved ones and those who are injured in the
recent acts of violence and terror, internationally and nationally; for those
individuals and families who, like Mary and Joseph, are seeking a place to
live in safety; for nations and lands torn by conflicts that are so deeply
rooted by years of history of animosity that there appears to be no way
forward; and for the children of the world who remind us by their very
presence that God has not given up on us. Truly, we pray for a day when no
longer will a father or a mother hold his or her dead child in their arms.
Too many sons and daughters have died. Now is the time for peace, healing and
Grace and peace to you in the name of Emmanuel, God with us!
Jeremiah J. Park
Resident Bishop, Susquehanna Conference