Messages for Pentecost and New Year—a long-standing tradition
Such messages need space! They need an occasion to present themselves: New Year, Christmas, or Pentecost are ideal. Pentecost has long been a popular occasion for a uniform message. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider is taking a somewhat different approach.
There are many reasons for a Chief Apostle to issue messages over the course of a year: for example, a New Year’s message in order to usher in a new time period; or at the time of Confirmation to give our young brothers and sisters spiritual guidance. And then there is Pentecost, a day that has traditionally been used by the New Apostolic Church since Chief Apostle Richard Fehr to issue a special message. And then there is Christmas so that people don’t forget such important aspects as peace and joy.
Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider is taking a different approach from his predecessors. He decides on a theme for a particular year, has it translated into various languages, and then proclaims the motto so that the congregations can plan their annual activities around the theme. On New Year’s Day 2014 it was the first time that he issued a motto in his capacity as Chief Apostle: “Labour with love!” At the time, during a service he conducted in Fellbach (Germany), he advised the New Apostolic Christians to embrace this as a special kind of profession of faith. Faith in Jesus Christ, he said, is shown by deeds that are born of love. Concrete actions that benefit our neighbour are an inseparable part of our preparation for the return of Christ. To love one’s neighbour, the Chief Apostle said, means to be prepared to share his burdens, those things that are difficult and painful.
Love – Joy – Victory
A year later, in 2015, he issued another motto to the New Apostolic congregations around the world: “Joy in Christ!”. He wanted to show how much strength Christians can receive when they are closely connected with the Son of God. Although nobody knows what will happen in the course of a year, he said, we can still set our priorities early. During this service in our church in Herne-Wanne-Eickel (Germany) he spoke about the importance of joy and mentioned a few concrete examples, one being the joy in the congregation. The congregation is not an assortment of “customers”, but a working community in which every single member matters. Esteeming each other, accepting each other as disciples of Christ, and helping along in the congregation are some of the factors that can increase joy.
This year’s motto is: “Victory with Christ!”. It is a challenging task to confront our fears or to fight against evil or to overcome our own weaknesses. In the divine service that the Chief Apostle celebrated in Siegen (Germany) on 3 January 2016 he gave examples of what a victory with Christ might look like: believing in Jesus Christ, following His example, persevering, and seeking His fellowship.
Love – Joy – Victory: This triad is an interesting development of thoughts that move forward.
The Pentecost messages issued by the New Apostolic Church between 1988 and 2013 can be found on the website of the New Apostolic Church International.
Links to the annual mottos:
- “Labour in love!” The new motto for 2014
- Motto for the year 2015: Joy in Christ – La joie en Christ – Alegría en Cristo
- “Victory with Christ!” The New Year’s message
Photo: Oliver Rütten