Church tower with a cross, seen through a star

The cross at the top of a church tower pictured through a Christmas decoration in the shape of a star, in central Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born.


In South Sudan, a Christmas message from the South Sudan Council of Churches encouraged people to step back and take in the deep and rich meaning of this sacred event. First, we see that God entered our human condition and, in doing so, can identify with all that we experience in life,” reads the message. God understands human life!”

The message also reflects that, in the eyes of God, all are equal. God does not pick favorites from among those who are seen as important in the eyes of the world,” the message reads. 

In Jerusalem, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem highlighted in a Christmas message the similarities between the current strife in the Holy Land and the events occurring more than 2,000 years ago when Jesus was born. In extending these greetings, we are well aware that we do so during a time of great calamity in the land of our Lords birth,” reads the message. For over the past two-and-a-half months, the violence of warfare has led to unimaginable suffering for literally millions in our beloved Holy Land.”

The message notes that, during the first Christmas, the situation was not far removed from that of today. This is the divine message of hope and peace that Christs Nativity inspires within us, even in the midst of suffering,” reads the message. 

In a "Patriarchal Encyclical for Christmas (2023),” His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew reflected that respect for the human person, peace, and justice are gifts from God. This means that, for us Christians, the way to peace is through peace and that non-violence, dialogue, love, forgiveness, and reconciliation have priority before other forms of resolving differences,” the encyclical reads. Peace cannot be taken for granted; it is not self-evident.”

The encyclical notes the incessant struggle to preserve peace. There are no automatic solutions or permanent recipes,” reads the encyclical. In the face of ongoing threats to peace, we need to have vigilance and willingness to resolve problems through dialogue.”

Pope Francis, in his Christmas message, called for peace between Israel and Palestine, and throughout the world. The human heart is weak and impulsive; if we find instruments of death in our hands, sooner or later we will use them,” he said. "How can we even speak of peace, when arms production, sales and trade are on the rise?”

The World Association for Christian Communication published a Christmas message that urged pursuing communication that brings hope where there is despair. 

The message describes communications that brings hope where there is despair, builds community where there is hate, enables participation where there is exclusion, and promotes freedom and demands accountability where there is repression.”

Ukrainian churches published an address to the people of Ukraine on the eve of Christmas and the New Year. Religious leaders assured that through their prayers, words, and acts of kindness, they support a nation undergoing fiery trials of war and harsh onslaught.

The message urged people that their spirit does not diminish, and wishes for God's grace, strength, unity, and hope.

Rev. Dr Munther Isaac, from the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem, gave a liturgy of lament in a live broadcast service from Palestine, shared by Bethlehem Bible College, Churches for Middle East Peace, Evangelicals for Justice, Global Immersion, Red Letter Christians, and the Network of Evangelicals for the Middle East. 

Isaac commented that Gaza has become the moral compass” of the world. If you are not appalled by what is happening in Gaza, if you are not shaken to your core, there is something wrong with your humanity and if we as Christians are not outraged by the genocide, by the weaponization of the Bible to justify it, there is something wrong,” he said.

Bishop Américo Jara Reyes, from the Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina, released a pastoral letter. We live in dark times painted with frustration, hatred, and a great lack of sensitivity towards our fellow men and women, which project shadows of death’ over large sectors of our society that may become more vulnerable and more invisible,” he wrote. Christmas is always a strong call to rebirth, a vocation to rekindle joy, hope, solidarity, brotherhood, and total trust in the love of God.”

Right Rev. Dr Carmen Lansdowne, moderator of The United Church of Canada, shared an Advent message for 2023, reflecting on generosity and humans caring for one another. At this time of year, it is especially important to show generosity to one another,” she said.

Archbishop Donald Tāmihere and Archbishop Sione Uluilakep of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, looked to hope, peace, and light in the season of Christmas. 

The story of the birth of Jesus is a story of hope and new beginnings,” they wrote. May you find new hope and a new song this Christmas season, and more importantly may you bring new hope and a new song to those who need it most.”

The United Church of Christ in the Marshall Islands launched a Christmas video highlighting the need to protect children from violence and abuse. 

Rev. Jeledrik Binejal reflected on how the Christmas story tells of the message of hope that every child brings into this world. Celebrating the birth of Jesus is a reminder that he understands what it means to grow up as a child,” he said.

WCC Christmas message 2023