The Optional Protocol requires that States prevent the recruitment and use of children under the age of 18 in armed conflicts. It is one of the most important documents in international law which helps end the use of children in armed conflict.
Other United Nations member states have endorsed the Optional Protocol. Gabon and Malawi ratified the Optional Protocol; Iran and the Central African Republic have signed the treaty.
The Optional Protocol alone will nor bring an end to the exploitation of children as soldiers, but it establishes a standard to which nations can be held.
Two additional members of the Morong 43 health workers held in the Philippines have been released, bringing the total to 40. Lawyers are at work to obtain the release of the remaining three individuals.
Scripture - Isaiah 52:7–10, Psalm 98, Hebrews 1:1–12, and John 1:1–14
Christmas Day! Behold the wonder of this day—a day of anticipations fulfilled! Rejoice and be glad! A Son is born!
The psalmist exclaimed that the Lord will come to judge the world with righteousness and the peoples with equity, steadfast love, and faithfulness. We rejoice! The Lord has come!
Isaiah heralded the feet of the messenger who announces peace, the good news of the reign of God, the salvation of God to the ends of the earth. We rejoice! The messenger has arrived!
John testified that the life that was to be the light of all people, shining in the darkness, was to come and live among us full of grace and truth. We rejoice! The light has dawned!
The writer of Hebrews proclaimed the coming firstborn son, who would love righteousness and hate wickedness, whose kingdom will be forever. We rejoice! The Son is born!
On this day we come to the holy manger. Like the shepherds and the Magi we would bring our gifts to the one born prince of peace: the gift of faithfulness as we engage in peacemaking with justice; the gift of obedience as we worship and proclaim Christ’s lordship and love; the gift of moral witness as we work for justice, peace, and compassionate world order.
Prayer We behold the wonder of this day, O Father, the gift of the Christ-child. Judge us with mercy, grant us internal peace, illumine our minds with truth, and grant that we may be called peacemakers, your children. Amen.
The Rev. Robert F. Smylie, former director, Presbyterian United Nations Office, retired, Tinton Falls, New Jersey
“And on earth peace, goodwill among people.” Luke 2:14 (NIV)
As a child this phrase from Luke’s version of the Christmas story was one of my favorites. Each time I heard this ancient text read on Christmas Eve, I felt warm and safe in the world, full of goodwill toward others and glad to be alive. I felt part of a world where God doesn’t play favorites and life isn’t a contest between “us” and “them.” I loved the inclusiveness of it, the fact that no one was left out. Today this remains for me the spark of light at the heart of the Christmas story and the good news of Jesus’ teachings. However, as an adult I have also experienced the bad news that when humans feel threatened, we tend to carve the world up into camps of us and them, look for scapegoats, convince ourselves that God is on our side, and demonize the other, justifying all manner of atrocities. Witness the Crusades, the Inquisition, witch trials, slavery, the Holocaust, killing fields, and 9/11, as well as the violent rhetoric that sparks and fuels horrors like these. Jesus himself was a victim of these sparks so readily ignited within us when we feel threatened—as many do today. In such times perhaps the act of peacemaking is mainly about choosing which fires we will feed in ourselves, our communities, and our world.
Prayer Gracious God, as we celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace, help us to realize your promise of abundant life for all people, and let us leave no one out as you lead us in your ways of peace and justice. Amen.
Donna Miller (reflection), staff member, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, 1987–1999, The Rev. Philip Woods (prayer), Council for World Mission, executive secretary for Mission Programme, London, England