Like the angels in the nativity story it is our privilege to share the Good News of Jesus in each of our own communities. We are living in a time where fear is unfortunately a common experience for a lot of people. The message of 'do not be afraid' is a needed one.
For several years now, both Europe and the Middle East have been rocked by acts of violence. Just yesterday we experienced horrific brutality in murderous attacks on a Christmas market in Berlin, a mosque in Zurich, and an art exhibit in Ankara. Security officials are omnipresent and will clearly notice your Christmas travel. Last month when walking in “Quartier Chinois” in Paris, I passed through a heavily armed patrol of 5 French soldiers. Public spaces in Europe all have a high security presence now.
We are also in a time of significant political change. Brexit came as a surprise to many of us as well as the British public. The European Union is under a considerable amount of strain. Economic realities in the poorer countries of the EU are causing significant social strain.
It is in the context of these difficulties and instabilities that we operate as the Church of Jesus Christ. We are hands, feet, and voice of Jesus. We have AICEME member churches who are responding to needs that are now around us. We are providing for the needs of asylum seekers and refugees and encouraging and nurturing peace in our communities.
In November, I was able to attend with a few youth from church the 2016 Youth Conference at Taize. It was a wonderful time. I enjoyed seeing the youth of my church developing relationships with some youth from other AICEME churches. When my wife Pat and I visited the American Church in Paris we were warmly welcomed by some of the youth and the youth leaders there. I was reminded that when you are part of Association of International Churches in Europe and the Middle East, you have brothers and sisters in Christ all over the world.
I am thankful for personal support that I have received from a number of you this past year. As we know leading a church, especially in an international context can have some challenges. I am looking forward to seeing you all at the 2017 Pastors and Spouses Conference from May 1-8 in Vienna, Austria, and Bratislava, Slovakia.
I wish you, your families, and your churches a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Association of International Churches in Europe and the Middle East