Open Forum: “Advent Preparation”

Bishop Atallah Hanna
13 November 2012

Advent is a time traditionally given to reflection on the mystery of the incarnation, of God-with-us in the person of Jesus Christ. In preparation for this unique season, Sabeel hosted an Open Forum to discuss how Advent relates to the Christians of Palestine.

Samia Khoury opened the evening by welcoming the guests and introducing the speaker, Bishop Atallah Hanna, Archbishop of Sebastia, Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem. Mr. Nabeel Al-Masou followed her by beginning the session with an Advent carol from the Orthodox tradition.

Bishop Hanna focused on themes of faith and hope. He said that Advent is a reminder of how we must not give in to discouragement, despite the painful and distressing things we see in life. For through faith, we receive the daily hope of Christ in our lives. While we commemorate the official Advent season but once a year, the advent of Jesus’ presence in our lives is an on-going reality. Nowadays, many nations celebrate Christmas by exchanging gifts, food, and drinks, but forget Christ as master of the feast and host of the celebration. Bishop Hanna urged all Christians to pray together, remembering Jesus at all times and making our hearts “like mangers” where the Advent of Jesus occurs continuously in our lives.

Later, Bishop Hanna also posed the question: “Why was Jesus born?” Jesus was born and lived as a human being to show God’s mercy and love towards us. When King Herod heard about Jesus’ birth, he was furious about it. He gave orders to kill all baby boys age two and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity, in order to assure baby Jesus was killed. Fortunately, Herod was not able to eliminate the message of Jesus about love and forgiveness.

Bishop Hanna concluded by offering the meaning of Christmas and the Advent of Christ as humanity’s invitation to follow the way of peace, justice, and nonviolence.

Following the presentation there was time for questions and answers, after which the session ended with another Advent carol.