Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Eve - Titus, Waiting for the Blessed Hope

Christmas Eve - Titus

Titus 2.11-14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God…. (Titus 2.11)

God of grace, grant us lives lived in hope while we wait for the manifestation of your glory. Amen.

Read this commentary and news from Sam Bahour, a Palestinian/American businessman who lives in Ramallah:

Some Palestinians refuse to just sit still and accept their fate as a permanently, militarily occupied people. One would think by now that Palestinians would have received the message loud and clear - the world couldn't care less about their fate. But no, these Palestinians just refuse to sit still. They continue to defy their reality and can be seen across the Holy Land - jumping, climbing, swinging, falling, tripping, singing, twirling, juggling, cycling, tight roping, and the like. Their nerve! To think they can attempt to live a normal life when the powers that be are spending billions, literally, to cause a collapse of Palestinian society.

And who is it exactly I speak of? Palestinian clowns. No, I'm not taking a swing at the political leadership, at least not here. I'm talking about the real thing: circus clowns, like in clowns that make you laugh and make you forget that the boot of occupation is pressing on your neck.

I can understand your confusion. Clowns and circus do not usually appear in the same sentence with Palestine. You are probably much more attuned to how Palestinians have been labeled over the years by some Israelis and their marionettes - everything from terrorists, crocodiles, 'beasts walking on two legs,' grasshoppers, cockroaches, slaves, 'a community of woodcutters and waiters,' the 'penniless population,' 'not worth a Jewish fingernail,' all the way to the most recent classification of being an 'invented people.'

As many are bent on dehumanizing Palestinians, systematically and with contempt, others are mending the wounds of a

people who have been purposely stripped of their well-being in one of the world's most unjust chapters of history. One group tending to that process of mending the deep wounds that 44 years of military occupation continue to inflict is the Palestinian Circus School (PCS), based in Birzeit, Palestine…..

The Palestinian Circus School is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established in 2006 and registered with the Palestinian Authority since February 2007. You can read more and view some videos of their work at:…..

Contemporary circus (or nouveau cirque as it was originally known in French-speaking countries) is a genre of performing art developed in the late 20th century, in which a story or theme is conveyed through traditional circus skills. It may all look like a game to the untrained eye, but this is serious business. At its heart, this style of circus is a societal change agent. The Circus School teaches young Palestinians the circus pedagogy to stimulate and develop their physical, mental, artistic, emotional, social and cognitive abilities. The circus then employs these skills in bringing smiles to the faces of children throughout Palestine, especially in marginalized areas.

If you spend any time in any part of Palestine, or even in Palestinian refugee communities outside of Palestine, you will quickly notice that the ultimate weight of this conflict is falling on the shoulders of our youngsters-shoulders that should never have to carry the weight of a military occupation! These young minds continue to be systematically damaged, but society is not standing still.

The Palestinian Circus School puts smiles on children's faces as well as using the platform of circus to link to a global circus arts community. Circus schools and troupes worldwide are acting in solidarity with Palestinians by exchanging trainers, performances and experiences. It's serious business with serious results. Maybe that's why, last year, Israeli authorities denied entry to Mr. Ivan Prado, the most famous clown in Spain, who was coming to perform to Palestinian audiences.

Robert Sugarman, author of The Many Worlds of Circus, described the impact of circus best when he wrote, "By turning you upside down, we teach you to stand on your own two feet. By dropping objects we teach you to catch them. By having you walk all over someone, we teach you to take care of them. By having you clown around, we teach you to take yourself seriously." The children of Palestine have had their lives turned upside down. Help us bring a smile to their faces and build confidence in their futures to make their lives worth living.

So, as you prepare to bring in a new year, I appeal for your generous support to the Palestinian Circus School in any way you can. You will not be disappointed. There are three places donations can be made:

- IndieGoGo Campaign to raise $25,000 to kick off fundraising for erecting a movable training hanger, which will be located adjacent to the newly donated headquarters. This new addition will house the high circus equipment, which are now placed outside in the cold under the open sky. This campaign just started and will run through February 20, 2012 at: Read more about this project...

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