Holy Land reflection: a call to let go of all fear

I have just finished reading the Palestinian Kairos Document, a text full of faith and hope. The shrinking Palestinian Christian community in Israel/Palestine now amounts to just 1.5% of the total population. This morning I heard a sermon rich with inspiration. The presider quoted Mary Ann Williamson's popular notion,  "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond all our expectations."  The presider spoke of the Divine Light within each of us calling each of us to let go of all fear, to see ourselves and each other as though for the first time.

Now into my third year as a member of the Christian Peacemaker team in Hebron, West Bank, I think about the truth of Williamson's words.  I've been living in the reality of the Israeli Occupation. I daily encounter these Palestinian people whose freedom has been taken from them.  The separation wall has turned their towns and villages into prisons separating them from one another. Israeli settlements control their water and natural resources and their ability to raise their crops. The military checkpoints subject their brothers, their uncles, and their fathers to daily humiliations. Like one young Palestinian business man recently said to me at a checkpoint:  "I'm living in quicksand.  I'm trapped."  I wonder if any Palestinian neighbor of mine thinks about all the creative possibilities within him/herself.  I worry, too, that 40+ years of Occupation may have smashed such hopeful thinking.

But surely the cries of hope ring out loudly from the Kairos Document:

"We also declare that the Israeli Occupation of Palestinian land is a sin against God and humanity because it deprives the Palestinians of their basic human rights, bestowed by God.  It distorts the image of God in the Israeli who has become an occupier just as it distorts this image in the Palestinian living under occupation.

"We declare that any theology, seemingly based on the Bible or on faith or on history, that legitimizes the occupation is far from Christian teachings, because it calls for violence and holy war in the name of God Almighty, subordinating God to temporary human interests, and distorting the divine image in the human beings living under both political and theological injustice."

It becomes ever more clear to all of us living in Occupation that there will be no peace until there is justice in this land.  When we acknowledge the rights of each person by virtue of his/her humanity, it is self evident that our world, our countries, can no longer wait for the right leader.  It also follows, therefore, that no one can ignore the suffering of our world.  As the Civil Rights movement slowly pushed justice forward for the African American; as the Berlin Wall chipped, cracked and finally smashed into smithereens; as South Africa destroyed the wall of apartheid, so too each of us must stand up, step forward out of any fear and do our individual part to restore the dream of God for our world. None of us is inadequate for the task at hand, i.e. of rebuilding our world into a world of justice, ushering in the peace, the shalom, the salaam of God.

For more information on the Kairos document see: www.kairospalestine.ps

To find out more about Christian Peacemaker Teams see: www.cpt.org/

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