We give thanks for the fellowship experienced during the Sabeel Annual Ecumenical Christmas Dinner. We are grateful for the amazing Al Rua’ Choir, the dedication of our Jerusalem committee, and for our many friends who made the Christmas dinner a success. We ask for the ecumenical spirit to be strengthened in the world “so in Christ we who are many are one body” (Romans 12:5). We are glad that over 220 clergy and community members from all the Church denominations of Jerusalem joined the event. It was a great pleasure to have the Bishop-elect of the Lutheran church, Ibrahim Azar, with us.
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
Sabeel led a tour for a group of local expatriates in both Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Below is a report on the tour by one of the participants:
Our tour was a day of contrasts and divisions, barriers and walls—and inspiration and hope. It allowed us to see both the past, through the ruins of a Palestinian village, and the present, through a refugee camp in Jerusalem. We saw how the Israeli-built security wall cuts through sidewalks and streets in Bethlehem, interrupting a city and reminding its people that they are, essentially, caged. And we were given hope: hope of a family whose farm has been threatened with confiscation by the Israeli government for 26 years, but who still answers with words and actions of peace and love. Sabeel’s tour showed us the reality of Palestinian lives. It was informative and inspiring and heartbreaking and infuriating and powerful—one of the most important days of my life. And it leaves me today with the challenge of how to use this new knowledge and understanding to do some good in this world.
On Friday, November 3, 2017 130 people gathered at Notre Dame Center in Jerusalem, as Sabeel, together with Bilda (Swedish Christian Study Centre), The Educational Bookshop and the Tantur Ecumenical Institute hosted a book launch to introduce Rev. Naim Ateek’s latest work, A Palestinian Theology of Liberation; The Bible, Justice and the Palestine-Israel Conflict (Orbis, 2017). Following are excerpts from endorsements given by Cedar Duaybis and Rev. Páraic Réamon:
Rev. Páraic Réamon:
From Gutiérrez and Ateek, Gustavo and Naim, I and many others have learned that the calling of the worldwide church – a calling the Western church finds particularly challenging – is to stand with the poor and the downtrodden. But that calling is also to invite those who tread them down to stop doing that – to invite the exploiter, the oppressor and the dominator instead into the new community of those who live as equals because we are all God’s children.
My friend Robert Smith was blogging recently about the New Christian Zionism. He concluded that all of us are confronted with a threefold task: “Now is the time for a new conversation about Jewish-Christian-Muslim relations, a new conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and a new conversation about historical Christian responsibility.”
In that complex conversation, the Palestinian liberation theology that Naim began now almost thirty years ago, and that continues today in his own writings but now also in the writings of so many others, is an essential voice that must be heard.
Let my last word therefore be Walter Brueggemann’s word. “This important book will be a great learning among us to which Western Christians of every ilk should pay attention.”
May it be so.
The context is Palestinian, the experience is Palestinian, the need is Palestinian and the theologian is Palestinian, but the Theology is liberating, and the Theology is liberated. “A theology of liberation is a way of speaking prophetically and contextually to a particular situation, especially where oppression, suffering and injustice have long reigned.“
Rev. Páraic Réamon is currently serving as pastor of St. Andrew ‘s Scots Memorial Church in Jerusalem. Cedar Duaybis is a co-founder of Sabeel.
Sabeel organized for our friends and partner at Menonite Central Committee a 3 hour tour in Jerusalem. During the tour we visited the village of LIfta, the French Hill settlement and the Sabeel office. The high light of the tour was meeting three young children from the camp and listen to their stories. Prayers and reflections were read at a very stop we made.