Warm Greetings of the New Year to everyone. Al Amana Centre has already begun its new year by having a group of students, professors and alumni from New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Next week – God willing – we will host a group of students from Calvin University. This is going to be a busy and exciting year for us.
In the Western Christian tradition from where I am coming, we are celebrating today the revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ. This day is called Epiphany, and it commemorates mostly the visit of the Magi to Bethlehem after Jesus was born. Based on this, the day is also called Three Kings’ Day.
According to a legend here in Oman, one of the Three Kings would have actually travelled from this part of the world – from the region which is called today the Sultanate of Oman – to see the new-born Jesus in Bethlehem. This is based on the assumption that one of the gifts for Jesus from the Magi was frankincense, and Oman is one of the only places in the world where you can actually find it.
As the New Year 2020 has begun, I want to return to this story of Magis traveling to Bethlehem. The star which Magis were following led them to the place they wanted to go. This year – the year 2020 AD – we need to have our own star. We need to have a star which is leading all of us to peace and reconciliation. In the midst of the turmoil in this part of the world today, we need a star which is leading us because there are so many crossroads where we can go wrong.
Al Amana Centre is willing to follow the star of peace and reconciliation. We are uniquely placed to do that. Oman and its leadership have been stressing a long time their commitment to common human values. Oman and its leadership have also been stressing the power of dialogue and knowing each other. It was not only Magis who travelled from Oman to Bethlehem. There have been thousands and thousands travelers who have travelled to Oman from all over the world and made it possible for the people in this country to meet people from other cultures and traditions. This has paved the road for seeking joint human values here in Oman, and it has paved the road for a century-long practical collaboration between Christians and Muslims in the Sultanate of Oman.
With this text I want to open our series of weekly blog texts which will be shared on our website, through social media as well as combined newsletters to our newsletter subscribers. The idea is to bring recaps and reflections on our work, on our environment and on our daily experiences. We want to share the stories of the work Al Amana Centre is doing for the sake of peace and reconciliation. Let us follow the star.
Author: Aaro Rytkonen, Executive Director of Al Amana Centre