Living stones in the holy land

I met Jesus in Israel-Palestine a few years ago.

I found him not in the rocky, desert ground he trod, nor in the ancient stones of the towns and cities he visited; not in the subterranean grotto in the Church of the Nativity, nor in the mammoth Church of the Holy Sepulchre, encompassing the traditional site of his death and resurrection.

No, I met him in the lives of Palestinians who incarnate his spirit, in humble, passionate people who are convinced that love is the only way. I met Jesus in people who spoke like this:

“We need to be soaked in the love of Christ. Love is not a hug and a kiss. Love is to seek the life of the other that the cost of one’s own.”--Labib Madanat, coordinator of the Palestinian and Israeli Bible Societies
“Love is not an opportunity to overlook justice. Love is an opportunity to pursue justice…. [But] we want to resist any form of evil with the heart and mind of Jesus Christ.… There is no love without justice. And there is no true justice without love.”--Yohanna Katanacho, academic dean at Bethlehem Bible College

“The Palestinians fear a new Nakba. The Israelis fear a Holocaust again. Only love can cast out fear. This is what the Bible says. How do we do it? How do we give security to the other side? I don’t think we’re capable of that love. It is only the love of God that can cast out that fear.”--Bourous Mansour, general director of Nazareth Baptist School

“I serve not to convert, but I serve because I am converted.”--Sami Awad, Holy Land Trust

“The irony for us Palestinian Christians is that evangelicals, with their over-emphasis on prophecy, have lost the capacity of being prophetic. You want to prove that the Bible is right? You don’t do this by pointing to self-fulfilling prophecy, or by pointing to world events as prophecy fulfillment. This is not how you prove that the Bible is right. We prove that the Bible is right by radical obedience to the teachings of Jesus, by proving that Jesus’ teachings actually work, and that they can make the world a better place. Let us love our enemies, forgive those who sin against us, let us feed the poor, care for the oppressed, walk the extra mile, be inclusive not exclusive, turn the other cheek and maybe — and only maybe then — the world will start taking us seriously and believing in our Bible.”--Munther Isaac, vice academic dean at Bethlehem Bible College

These voices come from a Mennonite Weekly Review article, "Life at the Checkpoint," reposted from MCC program administrator Ryan Rodrick Beiler's blog, reflecting on the Christ at the Checkpoint conference held in Bethlehem March 5 - 9, 2012, where Palestinian Christians gathered with friends to encourage each other.

At the conference's close, with the organizers endorsed a manifesto calling for prophetic action. It can be viewed at the bottom of the page here.

Not only Palestinians and North Americans but also Messianic Jews attended these four days together, listening, learning, and loving. If there were one thing that could make this conference seem any more hopeful than it already does, it would be that Catholic and Orthodox Christians were also sitting there in solidarity. How beautiful would it be if we more fully embodied Jesus' prayer for unity among his followers!


Anonymous said…
..this is a good piece .. are you putting it into the Herald
kar0ling said…
Thank you! I generally try to keep my political commentary in the personal sphere -- don't want to get myself nor my boss in hot water. :)

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