From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES PRESIDENTS
05 May 1996 12:56:56
95115 WORLD COUNCIL OF CHURCHES PRESIDENTS
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
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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