From the Worldwide Faith News archives

WCC head sends Christmas message

Date 13 Dec 2001 16:17:21 -0500

Note #6977 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:


WCC head sends Christmas message

by Konrad Raiser
General Secretary
World Council of Churches

GENEVA - We live in a world without mercy, where more and more people feel
trapped. Time and money have established their merciless rule. The secret of
their power is scarcity. Time is money, they say. Those who have a lot of
money never have time, and the poor perhaps have time but no money. Yet they
need money in order to live, so they borrow, and then they find themselves
trapped in the relentless grip of debt.

	We are told that in a world of scarcity, competition is the best way to
achieve more. Competition obeys the merciless rule of winning and losing.
Because time and money are scarce, the one who moves faster or can offer the
better price will win. Those who are too slow or have little to offer are
eliminated from the race - excluded. In a world of competition, there is
little to protect them.

	Where money rules, almost everything becomes scarce. When power and even
justice can be bought, there is little left for those who are poor. Here,
too, there are only winners and losers.

	When money reigns supreme, even the call for justice comes to be counted as
a cost factor. The powerful will be careful not to apologize for acts of
injustice for fear of claims for monetary compensation. As for those who
have nothing to lose, in extreme cases some of them may turn to violence in
order to command attention and assert their rights - only to be met with
relentless retaliation.

	It is in this merciless world that the "grace of God has appeared, bringing
salvation to all" (Titus 2:11). This is the same God whom Moses encountered
as "a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast
love and faithfulness" (Ex. 34:6) and whom the psalmist praises as the one
who "does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to
our iniquities" (Psalm 103:10). God has come into our world to live among us
and to liberate us from the merciless rule of winning and losing, from the
yoke of competition and scarcity.

	This is the message of Christmas: "And the word became flesh and lived
among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son,
full of grace and truth... From his fullness we have all received, grace
upon grace" (John 1:14,16).

	Our world will not be saved by increased competitiveness in face of
scarcity, but by grace and mercy. The grace of God which is God's true being
has taken on human form in Jesus Christ. God's grace overrules the law of
scarcity and breaks the relentless dynamic of retaliation. God does not
treat us on the basis of achievement, worth or power. God gives and forgives
generously, without counting the cost, and offers life in its fullness (John
10:10), particularly to those who are the losers in our merciless world.

	May we therefore, this Christmas, receive from his fullness "grace upon
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