Advent 2020 – December 2
December 1, 2020
(Jonathan Brenneman is the Communications Manager of Friends of Sabeel North America, A Christian Voice for Palestine)
Now you [Bethlehem] are walled around with a wall: siege is laid against us; with a rod they strike the ruler of my people upon the cheek. But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:1-2)
Reading the Micah text as a Palestinian Christian, I am struck by how similar the context from the time of the prophets still matches that of Bethlehem today. Bethlehem is walled in with a 26-foot-high concrete barrier built by the occupying Israeli military. The wall chokes the Palestinian community, restricting their ability to travel or see each other, because it is built between Palestinian communities, not along any recognized boarder.
The wall today, as it did in Micah’s time, represents violence, oppression, and segregation. And yet the prophet’s words are unusually optimistic, seeing hope coming out of Bethlehem, coming directly from that place most impacted by this oppression. I echo Micah’s sentiment saying, let us follow those most impacted into a future where all the world may live in security and peace.
The forces of oppression in this country want to silence those impacted by violence and war. When Palestinians asked people around the world to nonviolently boycott Israel until it respected Palestinian rights to freedom, justice, and equality, the response was smear campaigns, and laws that criminalized the movement. Or as Jesus would say, they “revile, persecute, and say all manner of evil falsely” (Matthew 5:11) about those working for a just peace.
Many Christians in the West are not only complicit but are championing this repression. If we are to call ourselves followers of Jesus, we mustn’t allow ourselves to be used is such a way. The words of Luke (Luke 21:34-38) ring out in response, “Be alert at all times!”
- Be alert to the ways that the powers and principalities continue to discriminate.
- Be alert to the ways that colonial ideology continues to infect our theology.
- Be alert to the plight of the most marginalized.
- Be alert to the God who lives and breathes amongst the “least of these.”
In great love you sent your Son, Jesus, to break down every dividing wall. Give us the strength and courage to dismantle the many barriers erected by human sin. We especially pray for a change of heart for those who raise walls between people and for the dismantling of the Israeli Separation Wall.
Open the eyes of those who think walls of separation will bring peace and prosperity. Open our hearts for the suffering of the other. And following in the footsteps of your Son Jesus and all the saints, open our hands to work for peace with justice for all the people. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
-Adapted from Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum Liturgy Resource Toolbox
Coming on LABC Zoom
Wednesday Prayer and Bible Study – 10:30 a.m. (same study as Tuesday)
LCC Community Meeting – 7:15 p.m. Wednesday
Together in Spirit – 6:00 p.m. Thursday
LABC Foundation Board – 7:15 p.m. Thursday
A Time For Prayer – 10:00 a.m. Saturday
Forever Young – 1:00 p.m. Saturday (Christmas Carols with Charlene)
Forum – 8:45 a.m. Sunday (Discussion with Hugo Aguilar and daughter Hulissa. Hugo is facing deportation.)
Worship – 10:00 a.m. Sunday (Communion, Candle of Peace)
Bible Class – 11:45 a.m. Sunday
Self Help Workshop – 3:00 p.m. Sunday (Led by LABC’s own Mariel Paul, MSW)
Blue Christmas Service – 2:00 p.m. Sunday, December 13