Christmas Eve 2009

Dear Friends,

As we prepare to celebrate the great Feast of Christmas, I ask that you keep the people of Gaza and the Gaza Freedom March in your prayers.

The march is in response to the cry of the poor – those who are always the first to suffer at the hands of the powerful.

As we see in so many places around the globe, while those in power seek to consolidate or expand their positions of power and domination, the little ones suffer.

Palestinian civil society – mothers, teachers, doctors, fishermen, farmers, writers, artists, students – has appealed to the conscience of the international community. The march is a humble response to the call issued by the people of Gaza, especially the children who always and everywhere are forced to bear the brunt of war and oppression.

The cold of winter is upon the 1½ million people of Gaza, people who live in an enclosed open-air prison that has been reduced to rubble after Israel’s bombing attack that began a year ago this week. As a result of Operation Cast Lead, 1424 Gazans, 2/3s of them civilians, were killed and 5.000 wounded. Over 14,000 buildings were destroyed and 71,675 left homeless. The situation is dire.

We leave on the Feast of Christmas, appropriately.

After weeks of waiting for light to pierce the darkness of Advent, we will be praying as we depart that God’s Kingdom will break through and that the will of the One who is Peace will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

As people of faith, we know that seas have parted, that the blind have recovered sight, that the mute have spoken, that the lame have danced, and that enemies have reconciled before.

We believe in a Big God of surprises – a wild, wide-hearted God whose spirit of justice, peace, and healing blows where She wills. We are waiting for and expecting a miracle!

As we prepare to go, the image that comes to my mind is that of Jesus wrapping his brown Jewish Palestinian arms around the Holy Land and embracing everyone – and I mean everyone – and squeezing the shalom, the salaam, the peace into hearts that are hard, broken, fearful, resigned.

We work for a change in the political landscape but pray for a transformation of hearts – especially our own.

If this hope – and it is hope, not easy optimism – is naïve, then what are we to make of the story that will be read in church tonight?

What are we to make of a simple, pregnant teenager who proclaims: He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly?

What are we to make of the promise that one day we will beat our swords into plowshares and study war no more as we climb God’s holy mountain together?

Finally, what are we to make of the One who teaches us how to die rather than how to kill?

May your Christmas be blessed and may we be attentive to the graces of the new year!

With Love, Kim