A Sober Chrismas in Syria

December 19, 2012 by Open Doors in General

Syrian Girl Praying

“Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” The message of this carol reverberates around the world during the Christmas season, but for Christians suffering in Syria this Christmas will this “heavenly peace” be theirs?

Christmas will be very different for Syrian Christians this year. Decorations will be sparse, and they will forgo the big traditional celebrations to avoid attracting a lot of attention, fearing that even a Christmas tree might make them targets for extremist groups.

“We will use the Christmas time to visit the families that have been going through pain and suffering,” a pastor in Damascus shares. Christians will come together in the churches of the capital for their Christmas services, “but no decorations and nothing big,” he says. “The whole city is mourning the loss of their people, family, and friends this year, so people will not really celebrate.”

Instead, he says that his church will focus on visits to (refugee) families to bring encouragement and comfort. The congregation in the capital will do “something small” for the children, but there will be no church-wide festivities. “We will be just serving others. We will focus on getting together for prayer.”

A colleague from the northern Syrian city of Aleppo explains that their Christmas celebrations will be very sober too. “We are not celebrating Christmas like before. We will have services in church and invite church people to come and bring their friends. The focus will be on children more than anyone else because they need to feel joy.”

Christians in Latakia and Bloudan report plans for a similar approach to the season. “It will not be like the years before; we will celebrate and have services, but it will be limited; we will have a small program and prayer time,” a pastor from Latakia says.

Father, as we move into Christmas week, and anticipate joyous celebrations with our families, we lift up Christians who remain in the current war zone of Syria, and ask that You protect and strengthen them, and that You will fill them with the true joy, the birth of Christ, has brought Your church. May the light of Christ shine brightly through them to proclaim the good news of the gospel to a nation that has been filled with sorrow and darkness. As they somberly cast aside traditional celebrations, may Your light shine so brightly in their hearts that they are overwhelmed with the joy of Your presence. In the name of Jesus, who became that Child of Bethlehem so that we might know Your heavenly peace regardless of our circumstances. Amen.

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