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Jesus' birth astonishes us anew

Sara Wenger Shenk

December 20, 2012

Christmas message from Sara Wenger Shenk, AMBS President

We weep for the children who are no more in Newtown, Connecticut and for the teachers who shielded children and are no more. We cry out for the children of Syria and Elkhart and many other communities; for children everywhere who are maimed by violence.

My husband Gerald’s first home was Newtown. His parents did alternative service there in a state mental hospital during the Korean War. Mennonite conscientious objectors and other people of good will throughout North America implored their communities to provide humane mental health care after observing the despicable conditions in the large state institutions where many of them worked. Many fine mental health care facilities grew up as a result of their advocacy. One of the hopeful outcomes of the horrendous tragedy in Newtown could be renewed resolve to provide improved access and care for those who struggle with mental illness. May people of faith be at the forefront once again to build up communities of healing!

Jesus' birth lit up heaven and earth with glorious good cheer against the backdrop of King Herod’s violent tyranny. Shepherds and wisemen alike praised God in utter astonishment. Amid our grief for the deaths in Newtown, Connecticut, in Syria, and in our own communities, the good news of Jesus’ birth astonishes us anew this shining season. From our AMBS community to your community, we sing with brimming eyes and hearts: Joy to the world! Great joy for all the people. For to us is born this day, a child wrapped in bands of cloth. Yes! Yes! Yes! A Savior, who is Christ the Lord!