Christmas Eve - Isaiah, Here we stand; Stand with us
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light…. (Is 9.2)
On Christmas Eve we will celebrate the incarnation—the god who comes to us as a baby in the manger is flesh and blood and tears and dirty diapers. A god who suffers at the hands of an occupying army—beginning with his family’s flight from a ruler who wants to kill their baby. A god who shows us that our bodies and our actions matter.
Palestinians know this God intimately; they know in their bodies what Jesus suffered.,,,,,arrested and beaten. Palestinian parents know homelessness—with no place to rest for the night, forced to find shelter in a barn.
A couple of weeks ago, more than 60 participants from 15 countries met with Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem for a Kairos Palestine Global Justice Encounter/Conference. They met to “share a Kairos consciousness, strengthen and build ties among Kairos groups to form a global network for justice, and learn from the Palestinian experience the urgency of Kairos solidarity and to end injustice.”
The participants in this conference issued a statement, “The Bethlehem Call: Here we stand - Stand with us”. It begins, “How long, O God, will they steal our livelihood? Oppress, imprison and humiliate our people? Deprive our children of their childhood? Indeed how long, God, will the multitudes of Christians of the world ignore the anguish of our Palestinian sisters and brothers and all of the oppressed?”……”We now say: ‘Injustice no more. Here we stand. Stand with us.’”
It continues: (or read the whole statement)
"Today, the illegal regime and illegal forms of the Israeli occupation of Palestine assumes dimensions of systemic injustice whereby the unthinkable and unimaginable becomes globally accepted, supported and normalized. This is an example of Empire (global domination) at work. It happens in Palestine as it happens in many other contexts around the world. At the same time, Palestine is clearly a global issue. The government of Israel claims to have and indeed enjoys an exceptional status within the international community. Israel regards itself to be above the law and is treated as exempt from international law. This status provides the Israeli government the freedom to occupy Palestine with impunity. (photo is Bethlehem)
As witnessed with our own eyes, the treacherous conditions imposed by the Israeli occupation on Palestinians and their land have reached a level of almost unimaginable and sophisticated criminality. This includes
the slow yet deliberate and systematic ethnic cleansing and the geocide of Palestinians and Palestine as well as the strangling of the Palestinian economy. The brutality in the “violence of silence” internationally provides an almost impenetrable shield for the Israeli government to implement its evil designs in blatant disregard for human rights and international law. Silence is an opinion. Inaction is an action….”
These are people who have been walking in darkness. Palestinians have been in the shadows, invisible to most of the world. Christians around the world have been walking in the darkness of their ignorance of the Palestinians’ suffering. But the participants in this conference “have seen a great light” and this statement declares their vision.
God made flesh, dwelling among us…...as we approach the manger on this holy day, make us mindful of all your people who still suffer as you did. Use us as prophets to proclaim your “great light” to the world, wherever we work and play. In your holy name. Amen.