Churches in Jerusalem Cancel Christmas Celebrations to PRAY for PEACE "despite our repeated calls for a humanitarian ceasefire...the war continues."


Statement on the Celebration of Advent and Christmas in the Midst of the War
November 10, 2023 - Available in the following languages: Arabic
Each year during the sacred seasons of Advent and Christmastide, our Christian communities
throughout the Holy Land take great delight in their preparations for the commemoration of the
birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In addition to attendance in religious services, these
celebrations have normally involved participation in numerous public festivities and the large-
scale display of brightly lit and expensive decorations as a means of expressing our joy at the
approach and arrival of the Feast of the Nativity.

But these are not normal times. Since the start of the War, there has been an atmosphere of
sadness and pain. Thousands of innocent civilians, including women and children, have died or
suffered serious injuries. Many more grieve over the loss of their homes, their loved ones, or the
uncertain fate of those dear to them. Throughout the region, even more have lost their work and
are suffering from serious economic challenges. Yet despite our repeated calls for a humanitarian
ceasefire and a de-escalation of violence, the war continues.
Therefore, We, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem, call upon our
congregations to stand strong with those facing such afflictions by this year foregoing any
unnecessarily festive activities. We likewise encourage our priests and the faithful to focus more
on the spiritual meaning of Christmas in their pastoral activities and liturgical celebrations during
this period, with all the focus directed at holding in our thoughts our brothers and sisters affected
by this war and its consequences, and with fervent prayers for a just and lasting peace for our
beloved Holy Land.
Moreover, during this season of giving, we also invite the faithful to advocate, pray, and
contribute generously as they are able for the relief of the victims of this war and for those in dire
need, as well as to encourage others to join them in this mission of mercy.
In these ways, we believe, we will be standing in support of those continuing to suffer—just as
Christ did with us in his Incarnation, in order that all of God's children might receive the hope of
a New Jerusalem in the presence of the Almighty, where “death shall be no more, neither
mourning, nor crying, nor pain, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
— The Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem