Over the past few days, I have felt angry, sad, mortified and incredulous at the audacity of President Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, basically declaring it to be the capital of Israel.
I confess my understanding of the Palestinian- Israeli conflict has only really developed over the past few years, but I do have an inkling of what sorts things make for peace, and what is definitely counter-productive to peace. This action profoundly jeopardizes any chance at real and justice-centred peace. I lean then, into the wisdom and spiritual grace of Rev. Naim Ateek, a Christian Palestinian and Chair of Sabeel – a Palestinian Liberation Theology Centre in Jerusalem. Here is his Christmas message. May it gives strength to your spirit.
Blessings, Rev. Juanita
During this Christmas Season, we pause to give thanks and praise to the gracious and loving God for the coming of Jesus Christ through whom we have come to know God’s true nature of LOVE. In Christ we know that God’s love extends to all people and embraces all. We know that God wills for people to live in justice and peace with one another. God’s love for humanity culminated in the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem today is desperately in need of the manifestation of God’s love. Jerusalem’s fate is being decided by the powerful, by those who can, who do not realize “what makes for peace”. They do not realize that their power cannot bring peace to the city of Jerusalem.
During this Christmas season, and at the end of another year, it is appropriate to renew our commitment to the work of justice and peace for our Palestinian people by focusing on three essential qualities of our Christian life, namely, FAITH, HOPE and LOVE.
*Our life in the world demands faith. Faith, not only in God, but also faith in ourselves and others, that together with determination and diligence, we can persevere in striving for justice and liberation for the Palestinian people. We also need faith to fight despair, apathy and disappointments. We need faith to realize that we are not struggling alone, but we are laboring with God for the achievement of peace with justice for all the people of our land.
*Our life demands hope. Hope that is not dependent on the ups and downs of the daily changing circumstances. Hope, that is anchored in God, who working in us, will ultimately give us victory over injustice and oppression, and will vindicate truth over falsehood and deceit.
*Our life demands love. Love, not for the gods we create and worship, but the love of the living God; the God who calls us in love to serve one another. Love, especially for our brothers and sisters who are oppressed and suffering from the policies and greed of their fellow human beings, as can be seen in unjust politics and economics.
Amid life’s vexing uncertainties, we come to Christmas seeking refreshment and renewal. There is something about a baby with his mother in a humble setting that stirs within us deep thoughts and feelings of faith, hope, and love. May God’s love and peace shown at Christmas sustain us throughout the coming New Year.
Sabeel wishes you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from your brothers and sisters in Palestine
Chair of Sabeel Board