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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Saturday, December 25, 2004
    Word from Jerusalem: Christmas makes us defiant - peace is possible
     
    It is in the midst of the Roman occupation that the Incarnation took place; it is in spite of the occupation that Mary and Joseph found joy and love in the birth of Jesus; it is in spite of the occupation and in the midst of economic hardships that the shepherds came to visit a family of modest means and discovered great joy and peace; it is in spite of the occupation that the Magi came to offer their gifts to the child.

    We celebrate in the midst of the occupation and in spite of it. ... The oppressors [and] the powers ... do not possess the last word ... they can treat us as nonhumans, but they cannot crush our spirit, nor can they take away our God-given human worth and dignity...

    Therefore Christmas makes us defiant. ... The Incarnation took place when God took on our humanity, when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. This happened in Palestine under Roman occupation. Then as now and in spite of all the hardships, we celebrate Christ's birth, Emmanuel, God with us, giving us hope, joy, peace, and love.

    We are defiant. We are full of hope. We will continue to work for peace through justice.


    - Naim Ateek, from the 2004 Sabeel Christmas message.