From the Worldwide Faith News archives

New Year Message from the LWF General Secretary Ishmael Noko

From "Frank Imhoff" <>
Date Fri, 27 Dec 2002 08:50:37 -0600

An Opportunity to See the Face of Christ in Others

GENEVA, 20 December 2002 (LWI) - As the new year 2003 approaches,
the general secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), Rev.
Dr Ishmael Noko hopes that it will be a period that brings
transformation in people's lives both spiritually and materially.

In his new year message, Noko points out that God's grace is
bestowed without prejudice, and expects that the coming year will
"afford us the opportunity to see the face of Christ in others."

The full text of the New Year Message from the LWF General
Secretary follows:

New Year Message from the Lutheran World Federation General

The tradition of exchanging greetings on special occasions such as
New Year is common practice everywhere. It provides an opportunity
to renew friendships, reconnect with family and heal broken
relationships. Within the Christian community, greetings of good
wishes and prayers nurture our bonds of fellowship.

As the year 2003 approaches, I greet you, sisters and brothers in
Christ. Let us remember the instructive and insightful words of
the Apostle Peter before an audience in the house of Cornelius, a
Roman military official: In Acts 10:34-35 (NRSV) Peter is quoted
as saying

"Truly I perceive that [God] shows no partiality,
but in every nation anyone who fears God
and does what is right is acceptable to [God]."

This Petrine public confession conveys something profound and
radical about God and divine grace: God is just; God's grace is
bestowed without prejudice; God has no designated favorites.
Divine grace is not conferred according to race, gender,
nationality, age or descent. Everyone who pursues justice and
lives accordingly finds acceptance before God regardless of social
status. The significance of Peter's statement can be better
understood when it is recalled that he had been nurtured in the
belief that God's salvation was strongly linked and restricted to
Abraham's descendants. To meet with a God who truly so loved all
nations of the world not to consider individual descent was indeed
the dawn of a "New Year" in the life of this leading apostle. His
worldview was changed radically, his spiritual horizons extended
beyond imagination, and his theological enlightenment deepened.
The audience in Cornelius' house was suddenly transformed into a
congregation of God's people called together with Peter to
participate in God's mission of grace and love for the world.

As the year 2003 draws near, may it bring a transformative
experience in our lives, not only materially but spiritually. May
it afford us the opportunity to see the face of Christ in others.
Let us bear in mind at all times that God is always ahead of us,
doing and putting things together in a manner that goes beyond our
human understanding.

May God grant you grace, strength and abundant hope to work toward
a just and humane society.

Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko
General Secretary

December 2002
Geneva, Switzerland

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the
Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now
has 136 member churches in 76 countries representing over 61.7
million of the 65.4 million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF acts on
behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as
ecumenical relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human
rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and
development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva,

[Lutheran World Information (LWI) is LWF's information service.
Unless specifically noted, material presented does not represent
positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units. Where
the dateline of an article contains the notation (LWI), the
material may be freely reproduced with acknowledgment.]

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English Editor: Pauline Mumia
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