For the 9th consecutive year, Christmas celebrations will take place in a difficult climate for people in the Holy Land.
As we prepare to celebrate Advent and Christmas in the security of our homes and communities, let us not forget to pray for justice, peace and security for Palestine and Israel.
Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, is still first and foremost a city of peace. And even in these trying times, many individuals and groups refuse to give up hope. They continue to search for non-violent ways to voice their rights and work for a peaceful and just future for both peoples.
Since December 2000, we have begun a new Christmas tradition of sending peace messages to our friends in Bethlehem. Once again, we would like to invite individuals, communities, churches and congregations, organisations and partners from across the world to email Advent and Christmas 2008 wishes and prayers for justice and peace to our partners in Bethlehem. This year, the project is being carried out in collaboration with the World Council of Churches and its Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF).
Wishes and prayers will be printed and handed out as personal messages, educational materials (e.g. at schools), and in the context of interfaith prayers (in places of worship) and in the new established peace house of the Arab Educational Institute opposite the Wall at Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem. The wishes and prayers could also include ideas for non-violent actions. The action will be launched at the beginning of Advent.
Sending a wish or a prayer by email is an important way of communicating with many people who long to hear a word of hope. Our partners in Bethlehem greatly appreciate receiving wishes and prayers from people outside the region, both as personal and spiritual gestures of comfort and hope on the occasion of Christmas. These messages are one way of breaking through the isolation our Bethlehem partners experience.