Given by Rev. Madison Shockley January 5 2020

Happy New Year! When we think about the city of Bethlehem where Jesus was born, we imagine a stable, livestock, and some hay. Today, Bethlehem is just like a any other city. It is a bustling Palestinian city. Our preconceptions are challenged. It now has a large Muslim population. Still about 2% of  Palestinians are Arab-Christians whose roots date back 2000 years. Memorials to those imprisoned in Israel are common. Most Palestinians cannot cross the bridge into Israel. Palestinians are not characters in a perpetual nativity scene but real people living their lives. Their ancestors have lived in this area since before Jesus was born. Unfortunately, they are occupied as their ancestors were back then. In the past, it was the Romans. Today and for the past 50 years, it is the Israeli army. They have written a plan for peace. In it, they speak of love. It include friends and enemies. Love is seeing the face of God in everyone. This does not mean accepting evil on their part though. It means correcting the evil and stopping the aggression.  This means resisting. Their plan is modeled on an earlier plan enacted by the South Africans. The occupation of Palestine is a sin. It is up to all people, not just Palestinians, to resist. As a member of the powerful nation of America, we must fight for justice. Raise our voice in faith and call for justice.