From the Worldwide Faith News archives

An Advent 2001 Message from the Holy Land

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Wed, 05 Dec 2001 14:47:49 -0800

ACNS 2787 - HOLY LAND - 4 December 2001

An Advent 2001 message from the Holy Land

"Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.  Then
the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it
together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken." (Isaiah 40:4-5)

We live in a tumultuous and restless time.  The post-September 11th world
has left many fearful for their security and uncertain about the future.
The words 'terrorism' and 'terrorist' have become routine in people's
conversations.  Suspicion and doubt about others are becoming all too

For those of us living and working in the Holy Land (Israel/Palestine), such
fears and uncertainties about the future are not new.  We live in a land
plagued by injustice and where terror exists in many different forms.  The
acts of Palestinian suicide bombers, whether against Israeli civilians or
soldiers, are publicly and swiftly identified and condemned as terror by the
world community.  But, unfortunately, Israeli actions inflicted upon a
predominantly unarmed civilian Palestinian population - confiscating land,
shelling residential areas and refugee camps, bulldozing agricultural lands,
demolishing houses, assassinating political leaders and activists, expanding
settlements, torturing political detainees, killing children - are too
seldom acknowledged or condemned as the acts of terror they are.  For
Palestinians living in the Holy Land, this silence by the Israeli and
international public compounds the experience of loss and destruction,
creating feelings of abandonment, resentment and despair.

To begin to rid the world of violence and terror, we must be willing to name
and condemn all their manifold forms.  Whether Palestinian or Israeli,
American or Afghani, whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish or Buddhist, we all
yearn to live in a world free of terror, suspicion, injustice, poverty,
hunger, oppression and occupation.  Only as we strive to lift-up the dignity
of every human being and the well being of all creation can we hope to build
a world of peace and security.

As we begin the season of Advent, there is no greater need than for us to
create such a world.  As people who are living in the midst of despair and
hopelessness, we know this is no easy task.  Yet, the words of Isaiah 40
quoted above provide us with courage to face the hard work ahead, reminding
us that the world as we know it will one day be changed and aligned fully
with God's will and purpose for all creation.

Advent is a time for Christians to reflect, prepare and anticipate, as we
await the return of Christ and celebrate his birth.  It is a time for us to
get 'our house in order,' both personally and as a community. We are called
to believe in and strive for God's reign of justice, mercy and peace on
earth as it is in heaven.  In this first Advent of the new millennium, there
may be no more important task before each of us than to wrestle with what we
must do to help bring peace on earth.

In response to the uncertainty in the world following the attacks on 11
September, there appears to be an emphasis on 'bombing' our way to security
and peace.  Here in this land of Palestine/Israel, we have seen the folly of
trying to obtain either through just such measures.  For us, another prophet
of this land calls us to a different way.  Is it not through living as the
Lord requires - doing justice, loving kindness and walking humbly with our
God - that we bring hope and life to our broken world and obtain true peace
and security for all God's creation?

This Advent, many Palestinians, Internationals and Israelis will join
together to end the occupation through acts of non-violent resistance.  This
Advent, many Christians in the US will join in Ecumenical Prayer Vigils for
a just peace in this region.  This Advent, many people the world over will
ask their elected officials to move beyond empty rhetoric to real acts of
solidarity with the outcast, the poor and the oppressed.  It is these acts
that will fulfill the call to do as the Lord requires.  It is these acts
that may begin to bring about Peace on Earth.  We pray wherever you are in
the world, you will find ways to join such movements of God's spirit in
order that 'the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall
see it together....'

Revd Alex & Brenda Awad, East Jerusalem Baptist Church (GBGM-UMC)
Douglas Dicks, Presbyterian Church (USA), Partnership Liaison - Jerusalem
Nancy J Dinsmore, Development Officer Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem
Dean & Mrs Ross Jones, St George's College Jerusalem
Robert May GBGM - United Methodist Church Worker
Kathi McDonald, Warden, St. George's College Jerusalem
Catherine Nichols
Edward B Nyce, Mennonite Central Committee
Revd Sandra Olewine, United Methodist Liaison - Jerusalem General Board of
Global Ministries
Revd Michael Thomas & Revd Susan Thomas Pastors, English-speaking
congregation Lutheran Church of the Redeemer
Alain and Sonia Epp Weaver, Country Representatives Mennonite Central

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