Advent/Christmas 2013: God is with Us
“You, Lord, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals will never again strike terror.” –Psalm 10:17-18 [NIV]
During the season of Advent, Christians consider the long-awaited birth of Jesus and the universal implications of God’s most precious gift to humankind. Not only our spiritual savior, Jesus was a messenger sent to proclaim God’s kingdom on Earth—a perfect realm of eternal love, peace, joy, hope, and equality.
How ironic and utterly tragic, then, that Jesus’ birthplace of Bethlehem sits in the heart of a region devastated by conflict, injustice, violence, and despair. For decades, millions of Palestinians and Israelis have lived in tragic and precarious circumstances. For too long Palestinians have been deprived of their land, human rights, and dignity while Israelis live under the constant threat of extremist violence. As followers of Jesus Christ, we know it is morally imperative to call for peace and justice in the Holy Land.
The theme for this year’s CMEP Advent resource is “God is with us.” When Jesus was born two thousand years ago, God came down to Earth and would forever more dwell and live amongst humankind. In spite of the violence and injustices, hope, joy, and love exist in Israel and Palestine and there will be peace because God is present and with all the people of the Holy Land.
Right: Moonrise Over Palestine by Taleb Dweik (Palestine). Courtesy of the Palestine Poster Project (www.palestineposterproject.org)
In this Advent resource, we highlight the cultural vitality and richness of Israel and Palestine by featuring the artwork and poetry of Palestinian and Israeli artists, poets, and designers. Art is a powerful medium of communication, one that both Israelis and Palestinians are using to express themselves and their common desires for peace, respect, and dignity. The cultural expression of the Palestinian people is especially of crucial importance. Palestinian multi-media artist Vera Tamari once said, “People ignore the fact that there are Palestinians who have the same potential as other people in the world, that Palestinians are like other people, that they can live, can produce art and music.” Of course Palestine does have a people, just as Israel has a people, and as Christians we know that all peoples, Israelis and Palestinians alike, deserve security, peace, dignity, and the chance to share God’s gift of creation and expression through the Arts.
May we prayerfully and sincerely consider our part in carrying out God’s kingdom of hope, peace, love, and joy on Earth and especially in the Holy Land. For God is with us and it is our common mission to ensure that all of God’s people experience God’s peace, love, and justice.
-Jonathan Jue-Wong, 2013 EYA Intern (GBCS) and; Doris Warrell, CMEP Field Director
Reflections and Art