Each year during the sacred seasons of Advent and Christmastide, our Christian communities throughout the Holy Land take great delight in their preparations for the commemoration of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” reads the statement. “In addition to attendance in religious services, these celebrations have normally involved participation in numerous public festivities and the large-scale display of brightly lit and expensive decorations as a means of expressing our joy at the approach and arrival of the Feast of the Nativity.”
But, the statement notes, these are not normal times. “Thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children, have died or suffered serious injuries,” reads the text. “Many more grieve over the loss of their homes, their loved ones, or the uncertain fate of those dear to them.”
Even more have lost their work and are suffering from serious economic challenges, the statement notes. “Yet despite our repeated calls for a humanitarian ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence, the war continues,” reads the text. “Therefore, We, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem, call upon our congregations to stand strong with those facing such afflictions by this year foregoing any unnecessarily festive activities.”
The statement also encourages priests and the faithful to focus more on the spiritual meaning of Christmas in their pastoral activities and liturgical celebrations.
“Moreover, during this season of giving, we also invite the faithful to advocate, pray, and contribute generously as they are able for the relief of the victims of this war and for those in dire need, as well as to encourage others to join them in this mission of mercy,” reads the text.