Wethen, December 2023

“Christmas is the time when we embrace the vulnerability of God”
(Sister Mary Leddy)

What an paradoxical sentence and a challenge: embracing God’s vulnerability?
Vulnerability and the need for protection are brutal. The images from Ukraine, Israel/Palestine and many other places in the world are a daily reminder of this.
They evoke the need for protection, for security, for everything that we see happening on a daily basis: bombs, tanks, grenades, walls and border fortifications.
Is there something else we can see in them? Can we also say: Stop protecting us with what brings so much suffering and destruction, andonly provokes counter-violence.

Israeli parents who have lost a child in terrorist attacks by the Palestinian Hamas and Palestinian parents whose children were killed by Israeli soldiers are expressing their emotional wounds and grief together and have founded the Parents Circle. Their message: Stop the hate! It will not bring our children back to life. It is our collective responsibility to end this cycle of violence!

The scene of the child in the manger brings this voice to life. Look, here is a human being, a small child who is dependent on others. Protect this child, protect every person and especially those who are weakest and most vulnerable.
The vulnerability of God is the antithesis to military security systems and the global arms build-up, which devours huge sums of money every year and spirals ever higher with hatred, threats, attacks and revenge. “In Jesus Christ, God has disarmed,” says Protestant theologian Dorothee Sölle.

That is the great challenge that Jesus’ vulnerable life leaves us with: that we risk our own vulnerability. It stays with us – throughout our lives, despite all the security systems.

If we recognise each other in our vulnerability and our need for protection we grow into a responsibility that does not stop with ourselves. It also includes the need for protection of the other, the stranger. It is this responsibility that encourages us to dare to cooperate instead of seeking confrontation, to move towards each other instead of building walls.

I greet you in these dark times with the words of a chorale from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Christmas Oratorio:

Break forth, oh bright and rosy morn,
till earth with splendour, blazes.
Ye, shepherds consternation scorn,
and hear the angels’ praises.
This child that lies a helpless boy,
Shall yet become your endless joy,
shall frustrate Hell’s endeavour,
and reign in peace for ever.

On behalf of the Board

Antje Heider-Rottwilm