Advent mini-meditations from Mennonite Church Manitoba's working group on Palestine and Israel.
3. Traveling to Bethlehem
Part of the wall that separates Israel from the Palestinian territory of the West Bank.
All went to their own towns to be registered. --Luke 2:3
When Emperor Augustus decreed that the people of the land return to their ancestral towns to be registered for tax, Mary and Joseph journeyed from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem, a village just south of Jerusalem in the region of Judea---a three-day walk. It was an arduous journey. Mary was advanced in her pregnancy. The countryside was hilly and rocky, and the road rugged. Today, despite the conveniences of modern transportation, travel between Nazareth and Bethlehem is difficult for Israelis and Palestinians. Nazareth is in Israel, and Bethlehem is in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory that has been under the military occupation of Israel for 51 years. Israelis are barred from traveling in the West Bank, and Palestinians may enter Israel only with permits, which are often difficult to obtain. At numerous checkpoints at borders and on roads, Palestinian travelers often experience humiliation and fear. God of justice, we recognize freedom of movement as a hallmark of human dignity. Hasten the day when all people, including Israelis and Palestinians, move freely within their own land without fear. Amen.
Advent Mini-meditations from Mennonite Church Manitoba's working group on Palestine and Israel.
2. The "city of David" and olive oil
Zatoun Olive oil is produced by West Bank farmers and marketed internationally as a fair trade reminder to pray and work for peace in Palestine and Israel. See: https://zatoun.com/
Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed [David].--1 Sam. 16:13
The gospel of Luke tells how Mary and Joseph had to travel from their home in Nazareth to their ancestral village of Bethlehem, to be registered by the Roman occupiers of the land. Bethlehem was known as “the city of David,” where, a thousand years earlier, the prophet Samuel had anointed David with olive oil, to become king. The child Jesus was called “son of David” and “the anointed one.” Today, olive oil is the main agricultural product of the Bethlehem area. It is used for cooking, soap, and cosmetics. But many farmers have seen their olive orchards destroyed as Israel expands its West Bank settlements and extends the separation barrier in the Palestinian territories. One way we can draw attention to this injustice is to purchase Palestinian fair trade olive oil products at Ten Thousand Villages or CommonWord, remembering that the olive branch is also an international symbol of peace!
Lord, during this Advent we remember the olive growers of Palestine, along with other vulnerable farmers around the world, who experience loss and injustice. May your peace and mercy reign in our hearts and in our world. Amen