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Christmas Message by the Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, 2004

21 August 2017

December 2004

We went to Bethlehem to celebrate the mystery of Christmas, in spite of the grave difficulties our people are living through, including the recent death of President Yasser Arafat. Our lives are still filled with a deep sense of despair, made more so by the dramatic climb in unemployment and in poverty. There is still no justice or peace. Blood is being shed and political prisoners are detained in their prisons. The two people of this Holy Land are still in the quest for peace and justice, grappling to come to terms with the hostilities, the murders, and the blood that has been spilled in Palestine and in Israel . . .  .

The future of Bethlehem itself demands special attention. Surely you will sing Christmas carols evoking imagery of “the little town of Bethlehem.” This little town has particular need for support in order to remain the town of peace where those who believe in Jesus the Savior and the Prince of Peace can dwell. In these days just before Christmas, the town has been transformed into a large prison and the construction of “The Wall” around it continues. Many Christian families have already left Bethlehem because of the difficulties they have encountered, due to the building of this “wall of separation” and the unbelievable construction at the entrance to the town. All this work has also led to the confiscation of land from many Christian families.

However, at the present time we see small signs of hope: promises that soon some of the political prisoners will be freed by the Israelis and hopes for the renewal of efforts on all sides with a view towards the implementation of peace accords. . . .

The Churches of the world are called upon to remember that the Holy Land is the land of the roots of all Christians. This is why every believer and every church has a duty to pay special attention to the events that are unfolding in this land, and to lead a well-coordinated, worldwide movement to help the two peoples find reconciliation based on security, justice, and equality for all in their rights, duties, and the dignity given by God to each and every one of them.

As the leaders of the churches, we will pursue our efforts to construct bridges of peace and hope by raising our voices for justice for all people. . . . we pray and hope that the days are coming when the residents of Bethlehem and of all the Holy Land may live in freedom without the need for a wall of security and separation.



Further statements from the Heads of Churches and Christian Communities in Jerusalem are available in Jerusalem Testament: Palestinian Christians Speak, 1988-2008 by Melanie May (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2010)