Final week, His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Patriarch of Jerusalem, led the annual interfaith lighting of a Christmas tree inside Jerusalem’s Jaffa Gate. “This [tree lighting] is a robust reminder that Jerusalem is a beacon for the entire world,” he stated, “particularly within the face of the turbulence and violence that have an effect on the lives of so many.”
Lots of the estimated three thousand individuals who gathered—Christians, Muslims, different Heads of Church buildings, and members of the diplomatic corps, civil society organizations, and elected officers—had been doubtless reminded of an identical time of “turbulence and violence” when Jesus was born below the brutal occupation of Rome.
It seems that for Palestinians, the celebration of Christmas—on city squares, in church buildings, and in houses—is itself a inventive act of nonviolent resistance. Take, for instance, the setting of Patriarch Theophilos’ tree lighting and Christmas greetings. He spoke from a balcony of the Imperial Lodge, a Greek Orthodox property that Israeli settlers sought to occupy earlier this yr. It was an indication to believers and people of goodwill that the settlers could have their manner now however that, in the long term, the way in which of affection—the embrace of 1’s enemies by reconciliation, forgiveness, and charm—will win the day.
In his feedback from the balcony and in a celebration held after the lighting, the Patriarch spoke frankly in regards to the many assaults on Christians and their holy websites by “radical Israeli teams, particularly within the Holy Metropolis… a deliberate try to expel Christians from Jerusalem and different elements of the Holy Land.” Nonetheless, he stated, “This straightforward ceremony of the lighting of a tree exhibits us the way in which and shines as an indication of hope within the darkness.”
It could appear to some that to comply with the one who Christians herald because the Prince of Peace—to observe his manner of inventive, nonviolent resistance—is a weak and in the end failing technique. One can argue that the nonviolent strategies with which Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. confronted injustice introduced solely incremental modifications. However these examples—together with others such because the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia—present a greater manner, what Christians would describe as proof of a brand new age that’s breaking now, the form of group the approaching for which they pray “on earth as it’s in heaven.”
Requested to remark, the Rev. Dr. Munther Isaac, pastor of Bethlehem’s Christmas Lutheran Church, replied through WhatsApp, “What’s superb within the Bible’s story is that within the midst of darkish instances, within the midst of a ruthless Imperial rule, within the midst of a pressured registration from an emperor, the Gospel narratives dare to talk about Good Information, dare to nurture the folks’s wearying hope, dare to proclaim that they imagine in a brand new period.”
“To me,” Isaac stated, “that’s defiance, that’s resistance, that’s persistence, that’s saying, ‘The empire and its forces won’t prevail. We are going to proceed to have fun. We are going to proceed to be.’ So we Palestinians will proceed to be and to proclaim Good Information,” Isaac asserted, “regardless of—even within the midst of—darkness and tyranny.”
Within the 2009 doc, A Second of Reality: a phrase religion, hope and love, Palestinian Christians affirmed their proper and obligation to withstand the occupation. However, they wrote, “it’s resistance with love as its logic…, a inventive resistance for it should discover human ways in which have interaction the humanity of the enemy.” In an e-mail, Palestinian Nora Carmi, a retired group builder, stated, “Irrespective of how dangerous the state of affairs is, Christmas will at all times come to remind us that the start of Jesus is saying the way in which of the dominion of God and peace by energetic nonviolent resistance.”
Having reminded the group on the interfaith tree lighting that the true character, the lengthy historical past of Jerusalem (the identify means Metropolis of Peace) is an “expertise of multi-cultural, multi-ethic, multi-religious life collectively…, of co-existence and mutual respect,” Patriarch Theophilos stated, “That is the society we search so eagerly to protect and proceed to construct. We lengthy for peace, and so allow us to not rend this cloth of our historic frequent life that has offered room sufficient down the ages for all who name the Holy Land their house.”
Certainly this can be a want—if not the prayer—of individuals all through the world.
Jeff Wright is an ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
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