From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 12:56:56


                     ISSUE PENTECOST MESSAGE 
Editor's note: The eight presidents of the World Council of Churches sent 
out their annual Pentecost message with a request that member churches make 
it available to all church members. The Presbyterian News Service is happy 
to honor that request. -- Jerry L. Van Marter 
     In this season fifty years ago, the peoples of the world were emerging 
from the wilderness of world war.  Around them lay cities in ruin, fields 
ground to deserts by the boots and bombs of aggressors and avengers, 
societies laid waste by hatred and vain ambition.  Behind were the horrors 
of death marches, extermination camps and the devastation of the atomic 
bomb. Ahead, the promise of peace, an opportunity to rebuild homes and 
inhabit them, to plant and reap the harvest. 
     As the light of a new day appeared on the horizon, the Charter of a 
new United Nations was being framed, one capable of "saving succeeding 
generations from the scourge of war." 
     During this year, people in many nations will visit cemeteries, 
battlefields, and places of infamy, tragic reminders of that global 
conflict, to mourn and to lament the folly of war. Some will gather to 
celebrate the victory of good over evil, of reason over insanity, of their 
armies over the enemy's.  Others will gather to reflect on the state of the 
world today, rife still with hatred and violence.  Many will note the 
remarkable achievements of the United Nations.  Still others will remind us 
that it has yet to eliminate war, and that it urgently needs reform if it 
is to be able to fulfil the peoples' hope for peace and security in our 
     Christians will be among those who mourn and who celebrate.  Many will 
be expected to solemnize, memorialize and dignify public events, to 
minister in the midst of the powerful emotions stirred, and to reflect on 
the contemporary significance of this anniversary. 
     These will be occasions to proclaim the good news of Jesus the Christ, 
the assurance that beyond pain and loss rises the promise of resurrection, 
that out of separation the hope of reconciliation and unity may be born. 
     To commemorate the passing of fifty years is to be reminded of the 
biblical year of jubilee (Leviticus 25), with its call for repentance, 
turning again to God, freeing those in bondage and forgiving those in debt, 
righting the scales of justice, restoring right relations among neighbors 
and with God and creating the conditions for peace. 
     The message of new hope that rings through the proclamation of jubilee 
-- after "seven weeks of years" -- is linked in Jewish and Christian 
traditions with the event of Pentecost, the festival celebrated by the 
people of Israel seven weeks after their Passover commemoration of their 
passage out of Egypt. It was on Pentecost, as the followers of Jesus 
gathered in Jerusalem after seven weeks of joyfully celebrating his 
resurrection, that their hopes were fulfilled in the pouring out of the 
Holy Spirit upon them. 
     During the Pentecost season in 1995, "seven weeks of years" after the 
end of the second world war, it is especially fitting for Christians to 
recapture the jubilee vision, confessing that we have failed to lay the 
foundations of a just peace, repenting of our sins of disunity and renewing 
our engagements for peace among reconciled communities and peoples. In a 
world rent asunder by violence, let us pause to pray that the mighty wind 
of the Holy Spirit may descend upon us anew, wherever we are, sweeping away 
the clouds of doubt and despair, baptizing us with tongues of fire, making 
us one in the Risen Christ. 
     In anticipation of the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the 
World Council of Churches, to be celebrated at its Eighth Assembly in 
Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1998, member churches have been invited to reflect on 
the significance of jubilee. In so doing, let us together proclaim the 
gospel of the Prince of Peace and say to the nations, in the words of the 
Assembly theme, "Turn to God -- Rejoice in Hope" . 
The Presidents of the World Council of Churches: 
Prof. Anna Marie Aagaard, Hojbjerg, Denmark 
Bishop Vinton Anderson, St Louis, United States 
Bishop Leslie Boseto, Boeboe Village, Solomon Islands 
Mrs Priyanka Mendis, Idama, Sri Lanka 
His Beatitude Patriarch Parthenios, Alexandria, Egypt 
Rev. Eunice Santana, Arecibo, Puerto Rico 
His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, Cairo, Egypt 
Dr Aaron Tolen, Yaounde, Cameroon 

For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
  phone 502-569-5504            fax 502-569-8073  
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