Jesus Was No Stranger
Photo: Kyle Anderson Photography
The season of Lent is a time for solemn reflection, prayer, and repentance, leading up to Holy Week, when Jesus returned to Jerusalem, was crucified, buried and resurrected. During this season, it is appropriate for us to reflect on places in today’s time where there is loss, poverty, and pain. Throughout his life, Jesus was closest to people who had succumbed to illnesses, were marginalized by society, and who were experiencing rejection and suffering. Throughout this Lenten season, we will be reprising our series, “Jesus Was No Stranger,” which seeks to look at some of those places in both Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. We will ask ourselves, “How would Jesus respond to some of the experiences of both Jewish Israelis and Palestinians today?”
Over the coming weeks we will offer reflections and prayers on the themes of:
Jesus was no stranger to . . .
. . . . life under occupation
. . . . obedience
. . . . a life of poverty
. . . . death and sorrow
. . . . the cry for justice
. . . . waiting
. . . . being misunderstood
. . . . humble service
. . . . persecution and pain
. . . . persistent hope
We will wrap up the series with “Thy Kingdom Come” on Pentecost Sunday. Read more
By Molly Lorden
“Hatred stirs up strife,
but love covers all offenses.”
January 20, 2017 was an immense day of change for our country. For me, it carried additional significance, as it was also the day I returned from my first trip to the Holy Land. While experiencing the change of administration in our country, I am also processing a trip that changed my life. As I traveled in the land that Judaism, Christianity and Islam all claim holy, I had incredible opportunities. I visited various holy sites and learned more about the complexities of the conflict. My fellow seminarians and I also met with NGO’s and leaders committed to seeking peace. Read more
What happens when local role models lead unarmed movements and demonstrate to the world what is possible when grassroots leaders choose to act? This is the story that Just Vision seeks to share with audiences across the globe.
Through award-winning films, digital media, and public education campaigns, the team at Just Vision – led by internationally recognized filmmakers Julia Bacha and Suhad Babaa – brings attention to the under-documented stories of Israeli and Palestinian unarmed activists who are inspiring their communities to work together to end the occupation and build a future of freedom, dignity, and equality for all.
Over the last decade Just Vision has built a powerful platform and reached hundreds of thousands of people with their message. Their 5 films challenge the way many perceive protests and activism in the Holy Land, from the story of the unarmed movement in the village of Budrus to the Israeli and Palestinian activists in My Neighborhood and the nonviolent resistance during the First Intifada (The Wanted 18). The Boston Globe said of Budrus, “[This film] will single-handedly change how many people view the conflict.” Read more
by Claire Stewart
“Reconciliation is something bigger than just people who hate each other and making them friends. It represents the heart of God.” – Yoel
At the annual Musalaha Summer Camp, this statement rings true. Children play tag, paint pictures, compete in water games, and worship together. You would never guess that these children are breaking down cultural stereotypes and social barriers as they share meals and laugh with their cabin-mates. Each year, the camp brings together Israeli and Palestinian children to build friendships with the “other” as they learn to build relationships founded on peace.
Over 20 years ago, Salim J. Munayer founded the nonprofit Musalaha (which means reconciliation in Arabic). Out of a vision to see true peace between Palestinian and Israelis, he built an organization whose mission is to promote, advocate, and facilitate reconciliation based on the life and teachings of Jesus. Musalaha’s Philosophy of Reconciliation makes this clear: “It is our belief that Christ’s death and resurrection are the foundation of reconciliation, and that forgiveness and healing can only come through following His example and obeying His word.” Read more
by Elli Atchison
The summer of 2014 was an ugly one in Israel and Palestine. The media was filled with reports of a war that devastated Gaza and filled Israel and the West Bank with anxiety and fear. But, out of this tragedy something beautiful began. Like a desert flower that blooms in the harshest conditions of nature, a brave group of Israeli and Palestinian women united to raise their voices and share their perspectives about daily life in the region.
Another Voice is a powerful blog written by eight Palestinian Christian and Messianic Jewish women. To protect themselves and their families, they write anonymously. But, despite a political structure that would have them be enemies, these “sisters in Christ” choose to pursue peace together. They share a common belief in Jesus, as well as the struggle to live amidst conflict on a daily basis.
Both sets of women felt a need to challenge the negative attitudes surrounding them. The Israeli women were tired of hearing about their government’s excuses for violence and lack of mercy. The Palestinian women were also weary of the hopelessness and despair that overwhelmed their people. Together they united to write about their lives, detailing the common struggles and joys of life on both sides of the conflict. Read more
by Elli Atchison
Peter and Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon, March 2016
Peter is special…. and it shows. This young man from Bethlehem has a twinkle in his eyes and a magnetic smile that draws a stranger in close. Life has been challenging for him as Peter was born with hearing impairments that made learning difficult. This would ordinarily put him in a segment of Palestinian society that is marginalized and cast aside.
However, despite his inability to communicate with words, Peter is outgoing and makes friends easily. He is a talented artist and an accomplished olive wood carver. Peter thanks the Joy School for giving him the opportunity to learn and develop these skills. Read more
by Elli Atchison
Jesus was no stranger to the suffering of our world. He experienced every trial we face today. He did not come to immediately bring an end to sadness and suffering or poverty and injustice. He did not come to overthrow a government or to end political occupations. He came to show us a better way to live, amidst the many tribulations that plague our world. He came that we might have life and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) Jesus came to usher in the Kingdom of God on earth.
During the three years Jesus traveled throughout the Holy Land, He constantly talked about the Kingdom. Many times He spoke of it in ways that confused His followers. But, His perfect actions demonstrated the lessons he wanted to teach those who chose to follow Him. The rules of the Kingdom include loving God through obedience and loving others before oneself. They include praying for enemies, refusing to retaliate against evil, and showing kindness even when others don’t. Kingdom values also teach us to trust in God to provide for our needs and all the while to embrace suffering that just does not seem fair. Read more
by Elli Atchison
Throughout Scripture, God’s demand for justice is repeatedly seen. His righteousness cannot allow sin to go unpunished forever. However, in His patient love, God often withholds the punishment that His justice demands, giving every opportunity for His people to repent and return their hearts to Him. (2 Peter 3:9)
Jesus came to this earth to be THE answer to God’s ultimate call for justice. Though He was blameless in every way, Jesus willingly took the weight of the world’s sin upon Himself. He suffered on the cross and paid the ransom of God’s justice through His own blood. This ultimate act of amazing love and mercy by Jesus was to prevent His beloved children from facing the consequences of justice that our sins rightfully deserve. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17) Read more
This is the fifth in a week long series.
by Elli Atchison
One only has to look at the final days of His ministry to see how He suffered. Jealous Jewish leaders conspired with one of Jesus’ own disciples tJesus was no stranger to persecution and pain.o have Him arrested. Though He was unjustly accused and tried in court, “Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge” (Matt. 27:12). He faced an angry mob who chanted for His death, even though the ruling governor found Him to be innocent. He was handed over to Roman soldiers who brutally flogged His flesh, beat His body, and mocked His holy name. Finally, Jesus endured the shame and the pain of a criminal’s death by hanging on a cross. (Matt. 27:12-44)
Throughout this evil tribulation He never once defended Himself. He could have called on His Father to send more than twelve legions of angels to defend Him (Matt. 26:53). But He did not. He did not raise His hand or even His voice in self defense. His meekness was the truest sign of strength that the world will ever know. Read more
This is the fourth in a week long series.
by Elli Atchison
Jesus lost loved ones during His time on earth. He knows that the death of someone we love creates a hole in the heart that is hard to fill.
It is assumed Jesus’ earthly father, Joseph, passed away before His ministry began. As a young man, Jesus would have grieved the death of His earthly father. He would have had to walk through that grief with His mother Mary and his siblings. Jesus’ own cousin, John the Baptist, was unjustly imprisoned and brutally murdered by Herod Antipas. Jesus, himself being fully human, sought solitude and prayer to deal with the pain of this tragic loss. (Matt 14:10,13) He also loved a dear friend named Lazarus who became sick and died. Jesus was so deeply moved by the pain of Lazarus’ sisters and He wept openly with them. (John 11: 33,35)
How would Jesus comfort an Israeli man who lost his wife to a violent stabbing by an angry Palestinian? Surely this husband would be justified in his feelings of bitter hate and a longing for revenge. (Exodus 21:24) Left alone to raise their children would be a constant reminder of their family’s tragic loss. The course of their lives would be forever changed. Read more