At Christmas, Jesus Christ comes to us as a child.  What a miracle! The living God made flesh in the womb of a woman and in the ancient town of Bethlehem — the city of King David. It is this incredible, gracious action of God that inspires the work of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation (HCEF), especially at Advent.

From this little town of Bethlehem comes forth our message of joy, love and hope, a message which ultimately overcomes all evil.  The King of Peace came 2000 years ago and is alive in our hearts today, particularly among the poor, the sorrowing, the lowly, the hungry, the thirsty, the merciful, the single-hearted, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for holiness’ sake (Matthew 5: 3-10). 

Today, the people of Bethlehem are struggling under occupation – their movement is restricted, they are separated from family members, they are recovering from another wave of conflict, they struggle to maintain their dignity.  This Christmas, please unite yourself with these Holy Land Christians in their prayers for all Christians, Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land.  Let us pray that justice may arrive soon so that peace can finally follow. 

The message of Christmas is one of justice, peace and love. Yet our land is full of hatred and bloodshed. This is not why God wanted us in this Holy Land. We are not here to make the Holy Places a battlefield for our struggles. Instead, these holy sites should be places where together we encounter God, where together we build our dwelling and His dwelling.

These sites are holy, but through the gospels we know that our Loving and All Merciful Lord would find his people – the faithful who persevere in the Holy Land today – more sacred than the holy sites. These living stones partake of Christ’s suffering on the Cross in the everyday humiliations they suffer. They are deprived of their freedom as Christ was deprived at His arrest, and some too pay with their lives. 

Therefore our message is also an appeal to all persons of good will, to the international community, and to all our Churches throughout the world — to wake up and to come and help both peoples of this land to make peace; a peace based on justice, equality and dignity. To all we say: Do not forget this land and do not abandon us.

Some might say: it is impossible today to live together. But we say: living together and achieving peace together is still possible. What is impossible is to ask for security on one side, while the other is being oppressed, to have one people occupying when the other is under occupation. This truly is impossible. But with equal justice for both sides, when the Israeli lives on his land and state, and the Palestinian also has his land and state, then living together will be possible.

Even now we move toward this possibility thanks to all the donors, supporters and volunteers who give to HCEF’s programs. We have faced many challenges in 2014, but it has also proved to be one of our best years yet. We have achieved much, and have paved the way to achieve so much more. 
We look forward with all of you to 2015, a year of greater giving and greater hope for peace. HCEF will begin 2015 by honoring the people of Bethlehem with a Museum that enshrines the rich heritage of Palestinian Christians – their traditions, dress, food, crafts, and the story of God’s Son that put the humble city and its people on the map. Without you, all of our generous and faithful donors, supporters and volunteers, none of these achievements would have been possible. Thank you.
Amidst all trials, I wish you all, brothers and sisters, and especially the inhabitants of Bethlehem, Christians and Muslims, a Holy Christmas.
And may the New Year bring the fulfillment of the angel’s message: “Glory to God in the highest, and peace to people of good will on earth.” (Luke 2:14)
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 


With blessing,