By: Dr. Peter Makari, Transitional Executive, Wider Church Ministries, UCC and Co-Executive, Global Ministries (Disciples and UCC); Global Relations Minister for the Middle East and Europe, Global Ministries
For 75 years, Palestinians have lived an “ongoing nakba,” an Arabic word that means “catastrophe.” In 1948, Israel displaced more than 750,000 Palestinians who became refugees. In June 1967, it occupied East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank, including Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. The UCC, in 2021, rejected “laws and legal procedures which are used by one race or religion or political entity to enshrine one people in a privileged legal position at the expense of another, including Israel’s apartheid system of laws and legal procedures.” As a people of faith, we seek the abolition of Israel’s apartheid system.
Over these decades, uncountable Palestinians have been injured as a result of Israeli military occupation, leaving them suffering physically and psychologically, permanently impaired or disabled. Several of our church partners in Palestine have well-developed programs to address their needs, offering physical therapy, rehabilitation, and counseling, as well as advocating to address the root causes. One of those programs is the YMCA in Beit Sahour. Beit Sahour is a town neighboring Bethlehem, and is where the shepherds are said to have been visited by the angel who said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people.”
That good news is for the oppressed and brokenhearted, the captives and prisoners, and for those who have been physically and psychologically injured, including by systems of discrimination like apartheid.
As we approach the manger in Bethlehem, let us remember that God’s promise of justice is for all people.
Good-news Bringer, Broken-Heart Mender,
as we confront the global realities of discrimination and apartheid that persist for generations,
empower us to rise in solidarity with our siblings around the world,
supporting the work of partners,
and seeking to abolish such systems,
that the freedom of all may be proclaimed. Amen.
Artwork: “May Every Star Protect Palestine” by Jess X Snow.
Used with permission CC BY-NC-ND
Find more at Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative
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