Christmas Greetings of Archbishop Tapio Luoma of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland for Bishop Ivan Laptev
To Bishop Ivan Laptev
Dear Brother in Christ,
This year, Christmas is celebrated in exceptional, extraordinary conditions. During this year, one had to put up with restrictions and get used to be careful. The same applies also to this holiday season which usually involves certain activities, movement, meetings together, and close contact. However, Christmas is not canceled. The feast will take place although not all of the traditions might be observed.
The Nativity Gospel text talks about an exceptional time and extraordinary conditions. By command of the Roman Caesar, people got under way and had to adapt to unprecedented, extraordinary conditions. Mary and Joseph made a difficult and onerous journey to Bethlehem.
The realization that the child could be born any moment added to their anxiety. They planned to lodge into a decent inn, but their expectations failed. A shelter for animals cannot be considered by any standards a normal night’s lodging for travelers, much less a suitable place for childbirth.
Yet, the exceptional conditions did not hinder the joy that the birth of Jesus brought. The joy began to spread when the shepherds met with the Baby whom the angel in his extraordinary good news called the Savior of the world.
In the midst of all that extraordinariness and exceptionality, the birth of Jesus means hope because it reminds us that God has not rejected us. He walks with us and leads us to the future, no matter how vague and uncertain the prospects look.
The Nativity of Christ comes also in exceptional, extraordinary conditions. During this particular Christmas season, the news of Jesus’ birth and the message of God’s love are especially necessary. They enable us to look into the future with security.
“Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Lk. 2:10-11, ESV)
Tapio Luoma, Archbishop, The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland