Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Reflection on World Week of Prayer for Peace in Palestine Israel 2015
The theme for this year’s World Week of Prayer for Peace in Palestine Israel (WWPPPI) 2015 has been “God has broken down the dividing walls.” When religious tourists travel in the so called ‘holy land’, the wall between Israel and West Bank cannot go unnoticed. But the Zionist tour guides inform the tourists, that the walls are built for security reasons, for those living on the other side of the wall are all terrorists and therefore to protect the land and people of Israel these walls are built. The wall runs around for about 400 miles long and about 25 feet height, and has concrete walls, fences, barbed wires, barriers etc. It is a separation wall; it is a wall of apartheid; separating people and communities, for the walls are built right in to the communities, only to divide and distance the communities. Walls are the ‘unholy sights’ in the so called land of the ‘holy sites’. #WallWillFall is a prayer of hope and a cry of justice that soon the dividing wall will be broken down.
Walls between Land without People and People without Land:
Journeying into the streets of Palestine would lead any one to anger, distress, disappointment and frustration, for visualising the segregations and separations made by the state of Israel by their cruel occupations, confiscating the Palestine lands, by building walls, fences and gates and thereby dividing and dispersing towns and villages of Palestinians, which is beyond one’s imagination in this so called ‘holy land.’ It is a paradox to see one hand the foreign ‘settlers’ on mountain tops guarded by the security forces living in comfortable zones with all amenities and on the other hand the native inhabitants of the land of Palestine living in the most deprived conditions. “The land without people and people without a land” is the greatest paradox that one encounters here. There are lots of ‘check-posts’ to cross across for the people of the land, the Palestinians, for these walls is a huge wall of separation and division. The humiliations, discriminations and the human right violations done against Palestinians knew no bounds.
Come, let us not build the walls: A Hermeneutical Recovery of Biblical Texts
In such a context, what do these walls mean to us as Christian faith communities? How many times have we triumphantly quoted, used, misused and abused texts from the book of Nehemiah, ‘come let us build the walls’, not realising what that would mean to our Palestinian friends living in the context of Israeli occupation? The occupiers have appropriated such Biblical texts to their advantage in building the walls, and have taken them as divine sanctions in raising the walls. They have also taken for granted that the biblical Israel is today’s political Israel and therefore there is a divine sanction for them in occupying land in Palestine. However, WWPPPI provides us an opportunity to recover such Biblical texts from the occupiers’ territory and to redeem it from the occupiers perspective by re-appropriating it to the given context of the occupied Palestinians, who are today’s biblical Israel, forced into slavery and occupation by the state of Israel. This also gives us an opportunity to confess for being Christian Zionists in many ways confusing today’s political Israel as equivalent with Biblical Israel. Time is ripe now to rediscover the narrative God’s revelation amidst the growing signs of our times today.
#WallWillFall with Christ and in Christ:
In light of this, the text of Paul written to the Church in Ephesus as recorded in Ephesians 2: 11-22, finds great relevance, for in verse 14, it is written, “For Christ is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is the hostility between us.” The context at the Church at Ephesus was the division between circumcised Christians and the uncircumcised Christians, and therefore Paul exhorts the Church that Christ Jesus is our peace who has broken down all the dividing walls of hostility, ethnicity, and ritual, for he has brought reconciliation and love among all people in the Church. This statement of faith made by Paul is a statement of hope & trust, for God who in Christ Jesus has broken those dividing walls will also bring down these walls of separation and division in today’s Palestine Israel. Allow me to reflect on this verse in three sub-sections for more clarity and commitment.
1. Breaking down the Dividing Walls is a Christological Necessity:
Christ Jesus is the reconciling point, where peace is made between the two dividing groups, where all of them gather in the name of God. It was mentioned that it is in his flesh that the two groups are made as one common humanity. Where flesh here refers to the ground realities, in its brokenness, and in its weakness, peace is made between the rival groups. Peace is made in Christ’s fragility of flesh. Being in Christ does not allow us to affirm in raising dividing walls, and therefore breaking down the wall of apartheid is a Christological necessity for us today. Out of our fragile contexts, we called in Christ and by Christ to praying for the breaking down the wall of separation.
2. Breaking down the Dividing Walls is a Missiological Necessity:
Breaking down the dividing walls today is a missiological necessity, for those of us engaged in mission cannot but partake in continuing Christ’s activity in our contexts today. If we believe in Christ, there is unity of all humanity, and in Christ all divisions and hostilities are broken down, then following such a Christ Jesus compels us to advocate in breaking down all dividing walls of hostility, particularly in the context of Palestine Israel. Breaking down the walls would yield liberation and freedom to Palestinians, for their self and their lands would be free from confiscation and occupation. Breaking down the dividing walls should be on the mission agenda of all Churches, for such a mission is part and parcel of God’s mission.
3. Breaking down the Dividing Walls is a Contextual Necessity:
The dividing walls in Palestine and Israel are against the UN International Border agreements, and therefore advocating for the breaking down of the walls is a cry of all responsible citizens from across the world. Garth Hewitt observes the Eucharist celebrated at Cremisan Monastery, at Beit- Jala near Bethlehem, where a huge separation wall is being built to cut across the community as an act of protest. ‘Eucharist as an act of Protest’ is a challenge to the Christians globally to strive for the breaking down of the dividing walls of hostility and separation in Palestine Israel. If this dividing wall is broken down, communities will be united, liberation will be realised and unity among people will be established. Breaking down the dividing walls in Palestine Israel is a 21st Century’s contextual necessity.
Let us as communities of faith, pledge that we shall strive and advocate for the breaking down of these dividing walls in Palestine Israel, and to ensure that justice and peace will be restored in this land. Let us be prophetic in our faith, address the human rights violations done to the people in occupations, speak to the principalities and powers of occupation by joining in movements like Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) etc. to express our dissent with occupation. Those going on pilgrimages to this land, want to spend their time at Wailing Wall piercing their prayer requests to be answered. May pilgrims recognise the walls of separation and understand the political moorings of such walls, and pray for the breaking down of these dividing walls, for only in those breaking of those walls can one find the living God in Christ. Today we don’t need walls, but we need bridges, for Christ has come to become bridge of reconciliation, and so does God call us to become bridges of reconciliations.
With God, the walls at Biblical Jericho fell down; in Christ the dividing walls of hostility broke down, and Inshallah in God, by God and with God the walls of separation in Palestine Israel will fall down. #WallWillFall. Amen
I thought young Joseph would be there welcoming
but it was young men with guns at checkpoints incoming
I thought young Mary would be there welcoming
But it was young women with guns at checkpoints incoming
I thought then it would be the manger that’s welcoming
but shockingly, it was the huge concrete wall of separation.
a wall of division
a wall of segregation
a wall of occupation
a wall of humiliation
a wall of discrimination
Making the birth of Jesus’ place invisible.
O Jesus, come now to be born again here
to break these walls of domination
to tear down these walls of demonization
to break open the cruel hearts of oppressions
to restore liberation and peace on this earth
and to bring glad tiding of joy to all these people
Come Jesus, and come now!
In hope I leave, only to return to see Joseph, Mary and
baby Jesus - in all freedom - in this land.