Once again we mark the blessed event when our Savior entered human history. Tragically, this year in the land where his heralds first proclaimed, “peace on earth and goodwill toward men” there is no peace. Sadly, there is little visible goodwill. Bethlehem, his birthplace, is surrounded by ugly walls and guard towers. The Shepherd’s Field is under occupation.
Once again this Christmas, our Christian brethren in the Occupied Territories experience a winter of deprivation and hopelessness. I personally witnessed their distressing situation on my recent trip there. We see in these brethren those of whom Our Savior spoke two thousand years ago — the hungry, the thirsty, the naked and the imprisoned. It is imperative that we American Christians respond to their anguish.
Responding to our Savior’s call, for over a decade the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF) has responded to this sacred cause. Through parish partnerships, child sponsorships, and pilgrimages HCEF has established solidarity with these ‘Living Stones of the Mother Church’ in the Holy Land. Through educational programs and conferences in the U.S., we have raised awareness of their plight and have attempted to arouse America’s conscience. This continues to be our mission and inspiration. We hope that in 2010 you will consider joining us in this vital endeavor.
A highlight of the year was the 11th HCEF Conference on the Holy Land in October, co-hosted with the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, DC. Representatives of Christian churches as well as those from the Jewish and Muslim communities participated exploring concrete steps to build “peace through dialogue and faith.” The conference awards banquet and general sessions drew over 300 participants.
More so than before, we wish to thank our many benefactors and volunteers. Your generosity and support in these trying economic times have been extraordinary. Your dedication to the Holy Land Christian has sustained us in this difficult mission. You have been our inspiration to persevere. Please accept our heartfelt Thank you!
In closing, may the blessings of this holy season touch all your lives and those of your loved ones. Let us continue to be inspired to work for peace in the New Year, so that finally there will be peace on earth and goodwill toward men in the land so sacred to all of us.
Merry Christmas and God bless you,
Rateb Y. Rabie, KCHS