Article Originally Published by the Office of Public Witness
Grace and peace to you this Advent season. During this time when we turn our attention and our hope toward Bethlehem and the Holy Land where the Prince of Peace was born, we cannot ignore the continuing and escalating violence in Palestine and Israel.
We know that the “little town of Bethlehem” of which we sing is now surrounded by a separation wall with checkpoints that are sites of daily degradation and violence against Palestinians. We know that this town where Jesus was born is now also surrounded by illegal Israeli settlements that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has called “illegitimate, illegal under international law, and an enduring threat to peace in the region.” We know that the land that was home to the Prince of Peace is one of the places in the world that most cries out for peace.
This year, let us wait and hope for the Prince of Peace by working for justice. Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness, has issued a call for Presbyterians to make this an “Advent of Justice” and to resolve to “actively support the boycott” of products made in Israeli settlements. Presbyteries, congregations, and individuals can do this by:
- Signing the boycott pledge
- Committing to study the reality of the Occupation of Palestine through preaching, an adult education class, a minute-for-mission, or including information about the boycott in your bulletin (example paragraph given below)
- Joining a webinar on January 13 at 3 p.m. to learn more about the Presbyterian Church’s decision and commitment to support the boycott (more information will be available soon).
As our Advent texts point us toward the star over Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ child, we invite Presbyterians to also focus our hearts and minds toward the reality of Palestine today. We hope that you and members of your congregation and Presbytery will sign the boycott pledge and commit to learning more about how we as Presbyterians in the United States can work for justice in the Holy Land.
Sample paragraph for a bulletin:
This Advent season, Presbyterians have been called by the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness to make this an “Advent of Justice” and to reflect and faithfully act for justice in Palestine, the land of Jesus’ birth. In 2012 the General Assembly called for a boycott of products that are made in illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine. To learn more about this boycott as an action for peace and to sign the boycott pledge, visit http://capwiz.com/pcusa/issues/alert/?alertid=63202461.
AUTHOR BIO: The Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, is the Director for Public Witness at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness in Washington, DC.
Read more articles in this issue People, Look East!: Advent and Christmas Reflections on the Middle East.