Monday, December 10, 2012

Advent resources from Bethlehem, Peace Not Walls, Sabeel and more

Pastor Mitri Raheb of Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem shares an advent greeting from the Holy Land. Christmas Lutheran does a simulcast Christmas Service between Bethlehem and the National Cathedral in Washington DC each year.

Pastor Raheb spoke to a travel seminar group from Yale earlier this year, and that group posted video. [See the two video clips a this link to the Yale blog]  

In a recent article Pastor Raheb reflected on the Christmas story in his hometown of Bethlehem:
"Bethlehem at the birth of Jesus was a besieged city. Today Bethlehem is again a besieged city surrounded from three sides by a 25 foot high concrete wall.  So what if Jesus were to be born today in Bethlehem? If Jesus were to be born this year, he would not be born in Bethlehem. Mary and Joseph would not be allowed to enter from the Israeli checkpoint, and so too the Magi. The shepherds would be stuck inside the walls, unable to leave their little town. Jesus might have been born at the checkpoint like so many Palestinian children while having the Magi and shepherds on both sides of the wall." [Read the article at this link]

For more Advent reflections see the ELCA Peace Not Walls blog.

Sabeel, the ecumenical liberation theology center in Jerusalem, issued a Christmas message from the Rev. Naim Ateek, director, A Child in a Manger: Liberation through Nonviolence

Here is a little bit: In reflecting on the Christmas story, what stands out to me this year are the words of the angel to the shepherds, “This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” The people of first century Palestine were looking for salvation and liberation from the oppressive yoke of the Roman Empire.  They were looking for a military leader to overthrow their oppressors and lead them to victory.  The angel, however, declared that their savior had come in the form of a helpless child.  Today’s Palestinians are looking for salvation and liberation from the oppressive yoke of Israel.  Tragically, and too often, it is through the clamor of the instruments of war and violence that we seek our liberation.  Yet true and lasting liberation can only come through the power of nonviolence.
[See the entire message at this link]

I hope you will also take some time during Advent to read Cornerstone, the regular publication from Sabeel.

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From the World Council of Churches:
WCC sees positive step in Palestine upgrade at the UN
The newly upgraded status of Palestine in the United Nations (UN) is viewed as a positive step in the direction toward peace and a reaffirmation of the World Council of Churches (WCC) long-term commitment to a two-state solution, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary said on Friday.
“It is now up to the two sides, Israel and Palestine, to move this process forward,” said Tveit. “The vote in the UN confirms that the two-state solution is the best way to peace in the region. Without that, the future holds yet more violence and insecurity, and continuing tragedy for both peoples.”  [Read the article here]

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