Kirkuk: Advent and Christmas, marks the presence of Christ among mankind

iraq_-_natale_e_avvento_a_kirkuk_ok2.jpgby Joseph Mahmoud
A radio broadcasts a message of hope throughout the diocese, so even Muslims can understand the roots of the Christian faith. Young people have organized meetings for meditation and prayer. A group has set up a crib in a Bedouin tent. Summit in Washington between Obama and al-Maliki, a few days from complete withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Kirkuk (AsiaNews) – Iraqi Christians are preparing for Christmas experiencing and witnessing to Christ’s presence through proclamation, meditation and prayer. From the beginning of Advent, the archdiocese set up a “radio of hope” in the Cathedral of Kirkuk that covers the whole city, to spread the good news of Jesus: “Glory to God in the heavens and on earth peace among men of good will”. In this way many non-Christian listeners can understand the roots and significance of the Christian faith, what they believe, the rites and prayers, hymns, biblical texts and meditations, along with liturgical texts. The radio is being manned by several people working on a voluntary basis, without pay.

Young people of the Emmaus communities have organized four evenings of meditation and prayer, each time in a different parish, starting from the theme: “Belief is to love and love is to give,” according to the example provided by Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, John the Baptist and Jesus. The Christian families group – a diocesan fraternity – has begun collecting money to help poor children at Christmas, so that even the smallest and least fortunate can celebrate the birth of Baby Jesus. The “Living Water” group, formed by young people between 13 and 17, this year are creating a large nativity scene housed within a Bedouin tent, to underline that the Lord has pitched his tent in our midst.

Among difficulties and daily violence, the Iraqi Church also celebrates moment of joy like the conclusion of the journey conversion to the faith of a young couple. A journey which, in spite of the problems, becomes a source of great hope for the whole community on the eve of the celebration. Christmas is present, it is an event of today and not only a commemoration of the past. It is not merely a tradition that has become consolidated over time.

On Christmas eve, after midnight mass, in the Christian village of Sekanyan, 10 km from the center of Kirkuk, a group of young people will decorate a car modelled on Santa Claus’ sleigh to distribute gifts to the whole community, including Muslim families of the neighbouring blocks.

Meanwhile, Iraq is preparing for the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops, which should happen before year’s end. The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is in Washington this week to open a “new chapter” in the history of relations with the United States, and will meet with President Barack Obama today, in the context of two-day talks between Baghdad and Washington. The Iraqi government fears that the departure of the U.S. Army, after eight years, can cause a new wave of instability in the country. Talks between the two sides will touch on other key issues including energy, security, education and justice.,-marks-the-presence-of-Christ-among-mankind-23412.html