Pastor Peter Kerr,
President of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists
My dear brothers and sisters, I greet you heartily today in the precious name of our wonderful Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
As we prepare to enjoy the sacred and usually festive Christmas season and draw closer to the end of 2023 and to the eagerly-awaited year of 2024, I think you will agree with me that our God has been a good, good Father. There are so many things for which to be thankful.
During this Christmas season, let us join with the angels in singing the beautiful song which they sang to the shepherds on the hills of Bethlehem over two thousand years ago, as they joyfully announced to the shepherds that Christ the Savior was born. We continue to be thrilled by the incarnation story which is told around the world at Christmas time. Oh, we can only imagine the incredibly rich musical notes raised in that glorious angelic anthem, “glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to men.” Luke 2: 14.
That first Christmas day was the day that God gave to all mankind His greatest gift of love. He gave His only begotten Son; and with Him, He has freely given us all things.
Ellen White puts it this way:
“The windows of heaven were opened, and upon the world was poured a flood of heavenly grace. God gave to our world the wonderful gift of His only begotten Son… He made a sacrifice that defies all computation. To save a fallen race He poured forth the whole treasure of heaven in one gift.” (Manuscript 99, 1906).
Now that is the Christmas story. That is the reason for the season.
Today, as we look all around us, we realize that the world is in a mess, and the message of the angels could not be more relevant and urgent.
As members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, our message is clearly defined:
Firstly, “Glory to God in the highest,” that’s what we’ve been summoned to do as God’s last day remnant people. We must glorify God and call upon all peoples of the earth to “Fear God and give glory to Him; for the hour of His judgement has come: and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and fountains of water. Our mission is clear.
Unfortunately, most of the things associated with the Christmas celebration have nothing to do with bringing glory to God in the highest. In fact, God is woefully misrepresented by the intemperance, greed, worldliness, and abuses that are associated with the season. I appeal to you, please let us embrace every opportunity that this season brings to ascribe glory to God in the highest.
The second thing that the angelic anthem offers is Peace and love – Peace on earth; goodwill to men.
We are living at a time when for far too many, peace and love seem to be like an elusive dream. The conflicts, chaos, and catastrophes often lead to a sense of hopelessness and despair. But, thank God for the song of the angels on that first Christmas day, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” In the midst of conflicts and turmoil, Jesus still offers “peace, perfect peace.”
I am aware that some of you might be battling some very serious health issues, while others might have lost precious loved ones during the year. For you, those cheerful voices now gone silent, the missing faces, and the empty seats around the dinner table or around the Christmas tree leave an aching void at this time. But, thank God, you, too, can still praise Him for His sustaining grace and His presence with you as you went through your crucibles.
I believe that God would want for each one of us, as we celebrate this season, to place the emphasis on mission. We bring glory to God in the highest by making “His Mission Our Mission,” as our Sabbath School Bible Study Guide for the 4th quarter reminds us. There are souls to rescue, there are souls to save. Let’s be mission-focused. Let us be united in mission. Let every family make friends of at least two other families during this season. Let us reach other families for Jesus. Let us also consecrate our cell phones and be active participants in Cell Phone Evangelism during this time. Let us consecrate ourselves sincerely to Christ so that He can fill us with the presence and power of His Holy Spirit. Going Back to the Altar will prove to be a real blessing for every person, home, and family.
Finally, let us strive earnestly for goodwill toward men. This is an offer of the gift of peace and love in our hearts and among us all. Peace and love in our homes, peace and love in our communities, peace and love in the countries of ATCU, peace and love in our churches, among brethren, in our conferences towards fellow workers, and peace and love in our institutions. May all of us receive the peace and love that God offers, and may we all extend some peace on earth and goodwill to all. “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
My Jennifer and I along with our family are joined by Dr. Cheryl Rolle, our executive secretary, and her family; Elder Roderick Sands, our treasurer, and his family; and the entire ATCU family at union headquarters in wishing for each one of you and your loved ones a safe, blessed, holy, and peaceful Christmas holiday and a very blessed and prosperous New Year.
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