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November 23, 2007

Christ Meets Humanity Where People Struggle for Justice and Peace

In his 2007 Christmas message, the president of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) Bishop Mark S. Hanson emphasizes Christ's meeting with humanity where people struggle for justice, mercy and peace.

Christ meets us where the creation groans in travail under the weight of our consumptive living. Christ meets us where the Word is read, the gospel proclaimed, and the sacraments shared, says the LWF president in the message addressed to members of the global Lutheran communion. Hanson is presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

Affirming God's presence in the world and unconditional offer for justice, he adds, Because God is present in the world, there is no person so lowly, no place so forsaken, no enemy so despised, no conflict so intense, no sin so grievous, no relationship so severed that God cannot offer forgiveness and faith, reconciliation and resurrection, justice and mercy, healing and hope.

The full text of Bishop Hanson's Christmas message follows. It is available on the LWF Web site in PDF version at: http://www.lutheranworld.org/LWF_Documents/LWF_Christmas_2007.pdf

2007 Christmas Message from the LWF President

Dear sisters and brothers within our Lutheran communion:

Holy Child within the manger, long ago yet ever near,
Come as friend to every stranger, come as hope for every fear.
As you lived to heal the broken, greet the outcast, free the bound,
As you taught us love unspoken, teach us now where you are found. *

Holy Child within the manger, long ago yet ever near...
The Holy Child, born of Mary in a manger, is an image that is both familiar and heartwarming. Yet Jesus cannot be confined to a long-ago time and place, for Jesus is alive in the world and present for us, with us, and through us.

Come as friend to every stranger, come as hope for every fear...
The Holy Child, born of Mary in a manger, is also the crucified one, now risen. The manger is shadowed by the cross and illumined by the power and promise of Christ’s resurrection. In this Holy Child, God is entwined forever in the mystery and brokenness of our humanity, drawing us graciously and mercifully into the wonder of God's divinity.

As you lived to heal the broken, greet the outcast, free the bound...
The Holy Child, born of Mary in a manger, is the Good News. Because God is present in the world, there is no person so lowly, no place so forsaken, no enemy so despised, no conflict so intense, no sin so grievous, no relationship so severed that God cannot offer forgiveness and faith, reconciliation and resurrection, justice and mercy, healing and hope.

As you taught us love unspoken, teach us now where you are found.
Christ meets us where humanity struggles for justice, mercy, and peace. Christ meets us where the creation groans in travail under the weight of our consumptive living. Christ meets us where the Word is read, the gospel proclaimed, and the sacraments shared.

May the wonder and joy of Christ's presence fill you with hope in believing.

In God's grace,

Bishop Mark S. Hanson
President, The Lutheran World Federation

November 2007

* Quote from Holy Child Within the Manger by Marty Haugen.
Copyright, GIA Publications, Inc.

* * *
The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 140 member churches in 78 countries all over the world including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, with a total membership of nearly 66.7 million. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and interfaith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada is Canada's largest Lutheran denomination with 174,555 baptized members in 620 congregations. It is a member of the Lutheran World Federation, the Canadian Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches.

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