After his trip to Palestine and the West Bank, Rev. Shockley offers some reflections. The sermon title comes from a theme of a cultural center in Bethlehem. This trip is his third. The first trip was back in 1996 and sponsored by the American Jewish Committee. This most recent trip was sponsored by the President’s Higher Commission of Churches’ Affairs for the Palestinian Authority. It makes a difference who sponsors the trip. The first trip came fro the Israeli perspective while the latest trip offered the perspective of the Palestinian/Christians. The view of the wall differs depending on which side you are on.
It reminded Rev. Shockley of the discrimination blacks face in the South. The first trip changed him politically but the recent trip changed him theologically. The Palestinian Christians believe they are the direct descendants of the Jesus movement. They have continuously worshiped in this faith and in this place for the last 2,000 years. Most people understand that Jesus was a Jew. Connecting Palestinian Christians to Jesus took a change in our understanding of Christianity. We must deal with not only the anti-Jewish bias of the New Testament but also the anti-Canaanite, anti-Philistine, and anti-Palestinian framework of the Old Testament.
Where does the conquest of the Promised land leave them? Using Liberation Theology, we ask who is God and who is he with today? God is with the oppressed, imprisoned, impoverished, and exploited. Jesus is Jewish and a Palestinian. The Palestinians have always lived in this area throughout all the various conquests over the last 4,000 years. The hope of change to come is the Christmas message. Any child born has the chance to change the world. Each birth is an act of rebellion. Hope is vision in action today.