The Christmas season is full of light – sparkling lights on the Christmas tree; houses in the neighborhood decorated with lights for the coming holiday; candles flickering on the mantle; a fire in the fireplace representing warmth, comfort, and hope. These are the images of light we will hold onto this Advent season.
- The men, women, and children who are living in Gaza; often with only a few hours of electricity per day.
- The 60,000 internally displaced persons in Gaza still waiting for a durable housing solution since the destruction of their homes during the 2014 Gaza War.
- The families affected by the 155 demolitions or confiscations of Palestinian owned structures in East Jerusalem and the West Bank during September and October 2016.
- Those affected by the terrible fires throughout Israel and the West Bank that destroyed hundreds of homes, displacing tens of thousands.
We close with a prayer from The Reverend Said Ailabouni, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Chicago, Illinois:*
God of mercy and compassion, of grace and reconciliation,
pour your power upon all your children in the Middle East:
Jews, Muslims and Christians,
Palestinians and Israelis.
Let hatred be turned into love, fear to trust, despair to hope,
oppression to freedom, occupation to liberation,
that violent encounters may be replaced by loving embraces,
and peace and justice could be experienced by all.
* Taken from the United States Council for Catholic Bishops, Prayers for Peace in the Middle East.