Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
As we prepare to welcome and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, we do so facing the prospect of a possible war in the Middle East. The breakdown of the peace process in the Holy Land and the continuing acts of violence among both Jews and Palestinians concerns us all. In recent months too there has been a gathering danger of war against Iraq.
In October the House of Bishops "urged the British Government and the International Community to continue to pursue all available peaceful means towards resolving the crisis with Iraq..." and "...that to undertake a preventative war against Iraq at this juncture would be to lower the threshold for war unacceptably". In November the General Synod indicated its support for this statement, and heard calls to pray for peace particularly at Epiphany.
I am writing to encourage parishes, congregations and individuals to pray for peace at Epiphany. This is an appropriate season in which so to focus our prayer. In this season we celebrate the revealing of Christ to the gentiles, through the visit of the Magi from the east to the new born Saviour.
Advent, Christmas and Epiphany all provide us with poignant reminders of God's profound and deep love for his creation. Each season is pregnant with hope and the possibility of reconciliation, and the making of a new world, one in which God's justice and peace come "on earth as it is in heaven."
This is not a time for simply "hoping for the best" but rather of a commitment together in prayer and in hope that the God of peace will bestow upon all humanity his mercy and grace, for the sake of Jesus Christ in whose name we pray.