Editorial: A Christmas plea to protect children
In its Christmas message this year, the World Council of Churches focuses on the story of Christ’s birth so many years ago in relation to the ongoing need today to care for all the children of the world.
“As Christians are celebrating Christmas, we renew our faith that the glory of God is shining in our midst. We celebrate that this happened through Jesus Christ, born by a woman as a human being, with all the potential of love and all the vulnerability that belongs to being a newborn child,” the message says.
“There is no other way of being a human than by first being a child. As children we are given life through others; we need to be fed and we need to be clothed, we need the care of those around us, we need to learn from others, we need to be protected from dangers, violence, and illness. We need to belong to somebody, somewhere.”
The message goes on to lament the millions of children around the world who do not have the care and protection they require. That is especially true today in Syria, where civilians are not only caught in the crossfire of a brutal civil war, but are intentionally being targeted.
Of all the graphic images that have come from Aleppo, where the greatest atrocities have taken place, it is the photos of children who have been so horribly devastated by that conflict that are the most heartbreaking.
“This is also the story of the Son of God,” the World Council message states. “The biblical narratives of the birth of Jesus convey all these dimensions of human life: care and love, as well as the enormous risks and threats to life. King Herod committed the gravest sin by killing all children in the area where Jesus was born to eradicate the threats to his power. Jesus and his family became refugees in Egypt.”
In our country, children have always been at the heart of our Christmas celebrations. All of our Christmas mythology and lore revolves around the jolly fat man who flies down from the North Pole each year on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer (the leader with a red nose), slides down the chimney and leaves gifts beneath the tree for “nice” boys and girls. Kids spring from their beds at first sunlight to see if Santa left that new bike or doll they were hoping for, or a lump of coal if they ended up on the “naughty” list.
It is the one holiday each year where all of our focus is on the children. Through programs like Toys for Tots and Shop With a Cop, we try to ensure that no child is forgotten at Christmas.
Those at the World Council of Churches are asking that we extend that feeling beyond our community and keep all of the world’s children close to our hearts this Christmas.
“Let us celebrate Christmas, wherever we are, and may the love and care of God for all God’s children fill our hearts and guide our steps forward on our common pilgrimage of justice and peace!”