Christmas 1995

Message of the Patriarchs & Heads of the Christian Communities

for the Great Jubilee of the year 2000

"I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people for today in the City of David Bethlehem) a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord " Luke2, 10-11).

So sounded the voice of the angel almost two thousand years ago, to the shepherds watching over their flocks near Bethlehem in the present Beit Sahour.

With the echo of these words still resounding in our hearts and minds, we, the Heads and Shepherds of the Christian communities living in this blessed Holy Land, declare not only to Christians and to all the inhabitantsof the Holy Land,but also to all the peoples of the world, that now is the time to prepare for receiving the year 2000 and the great anniversary of that wonderful and incredible incarnation of the Son of God in this Blessed Land. "And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth "(John 1,14).

Inspired by this heavenly message, we Heads of the Christian communities living in the Holy Land, living in God's love and sharing the concerns for our spiritual Christian flock, are working together to make this anniversary a very special One, for the revival of Christian life and love within our dear people.

"Behold the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means "God is with us'." (Matt. 1, 23). "For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder- Couselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful"(Isaiah 9,5-6).

We believe now is the time for the Prince of Peace to reinstate peace in his so troubled land! "The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord (Luke 4,18-19).

With such desire and goal in our hearts, we shall not spare any effort to make the celebration of this great event in the history of salvation a means for ushering in the reign of peace. We hope and pray that it will inspire all parties and peoples to do their utmost for the implementation of peace in this Holy Land.

ninhabitants of this Land, join us and pray for peace! Ask God to give assistance and courage to all Palestinians and Israelis who are working for peace. May the peace process and all that it brings with the extensions of self rule, be a sure stepon the road to full, just and tasting peace. May we celebrate the year 2000 with the gift of full peace for every one in this Holy Land!

Let us be filled and moved by the prophetic voice telling us;"A voice of one crying out in the desert: prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God (Lukc 3,4-6)

Beside what every Church will prepare on its own for this event, we have created a special Committee to propose ideas and projects to make our common cetebration a very Special One - a celebration with one spirit, one heart and one aim: the glory of Our Blessed Lord Jesus Christ and the spiritual benefit of our beloved people!

Prepare yourselves to hear our call and to follow closely what the Lord inspires for you! We will address you on a later date with a common document about the2000th year annivesary of the nativity 0f Our Lord Jesus Christ.

We, the Patriarchs and all Heads of the Christian Communities in the Holy Land, ask you to do what Our Lord Jesus Christ recommended to his disciples: "love one another as I love you. "(John, 15,12) Please acknowledge the existing variety between us and respect all Church authorities and jurisdictions. Living Christian charity, let us make ourselves ready to see fulfilled in us the wish Jesus prayed for after the Last Supper with his apostles. "Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are. I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word so that they may all be one.. that the world may believe that you sent me," (John, 17, 12,20,21).

We bless you all in the Name of the Lord! And while celebrating this Christmas we shall never cease singing with the angels: "Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.', May the peace of Our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

Jerusalem, Christmas 1995

+ Diodoros I, Greek OrthodoxPatriarch of Jerusalem

+ Michel Sabbah Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

+ Torkom Manooghian, Armemian Patriarch of Jerusalem

Fr. Giuseppe Nazzaro, o.f. m, Custos of the IHoly Land

+Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Bishop of Jerusalem

P. Hanna Aydin, For the Syrian Orthodox Church

+ Abba Athanasius, Ethiopianop of Jerusalem

+ Samir Kaf"ity, Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem

+ Lutfi Laham, Greek Catholic Patriarchal Vicar

+ Naim Nassar, Lutheran Bishop in Jerusalem

+ Andre Bedoglouian, Armenian Catliolic Patriarchal Vicar

+ Msgr Boutros Abdel Ahad, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Vicar