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Love Came Down at Christmas

Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, love divine.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son John 3.16

Love is a word that we see everywhere at Christmas: sometimes used poignantly; sometimes frivolously; at other times to express our feelings towards those closest to us. To live lives full of love can be challenging – as we know all too well – it’s easy to love those who love us, agree with us and affirm us, but much harder to love those who we disagree profoundly with, or those who dislike us.

We turn our attention to Bethlehem tonight, to the baby born because God loved the whole world so much. That love is unconditional, given freely to people of all creeds, colours, abilities and dispositions. Most of us know that, appreciate it, but don’t really need to give it too much thought on a day-to-day basis.

For the Christians in modern day Bethlehem, however, living out this radical love is not only a daily reality, but an act of profound faith. Bethlehem, a city which sits in the West Bank, cut off from Jerusalem by Israel’s separation barrier, is under occupation today, just as it was at the time of Jesus’ birth. For those who call it home, life is challenging, movement is restricted, and opportunities limited.

Palestinian Christians released a plea to the global Christian community through their Kairos document asking that the global church understand their suffering and struggle, and help them to get their freedom back.

The Kairos document has love as its logic. It recognises that resistance to the occupation is both a necessity and a duty, however it should be done non-violently. We are all are made in the image of God.

Through our love, we will overcome injustices and establish foundations for a new society both for us and for our opponents. Our future and their future are one. Either the cycle of violence that destroys both of us or peace that will benefit both. Kairos Palestine 4.3

This approach embodies the ability to recognise the humanity of those you profoundly disagree with and to work non-violently to liberate both oppressed and oppressor. It is a radical love which refuses to hate, refuses to polarise and refuses to diminish the humanity of the other.

This Christmas, as we sing our well-loved carols, let us remember the realities of Bethlehem for all who live there. And as we welcome the prince of peace tonight, inspire in us the desire that we will work for nothing other than peace. A true, lasting peace which must, by definition, have justice for all people at its heart.

Pray not for Arab or Jew,

for Palestinian or Israeli,

but pray rather for ourselves,

that we might not

divide them in our prayers

but keep them both together

in our hearts.

Prayer of a Palestinian Christian

Val Brown is a Trustee of ALTERnativity and works for Christian Aid Scotland.

Photo: Carol Finlay, World Mission Council

@ALTYGlasgow

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