Kairos Palestine Christmas Alert 2023 - 4th advent

4th Sunday of Advent

By Shireen Awwad Hilal

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’” (Matthew 2:16-18)

At Christmas in Bethlehem on the West Bank, however difficult life may be, we normally focus on family and the joy and wonder of our children as we recall the birth of the Christ child—the Prince of Peace.  Yet, let us not forget that Jesus was born into the harsh reality of military occupation under the Roman Empire.

This year we are catapulted into the catastrophe of Gaza.  As I write (early November), over 4,000 children are among the 11,000 killed in Gaza.  Whole families are being killed.  We are seeing the killing of the innocents all over again.  Like Rachel, we cannot find comfort. Like Rachel, our hearts are shattered by this fearful and violent loss of life, including children who had many years of creative life ahead of them.

Gaza over the past month has revealed extremes of violence, destruction and fear.  Over one million people have fled their homes in search of safety.  This massive movement of people is a reminder of the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948.  Many see history repeating itself.  Their flight reminds us of the flight of the Holy Family two thousand years ago.  Today, these uprooted people find no security, no home of safety.

Please join us in prayer for those who mourn and live in fear.  May we one day know true peace that has a strong foundation, not a temporary one. Peace based on Justice not Fear. Amen.

Shireen Awwad Hilal began her career as a teacher at the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit-Sahour, before becoming an administrative secretary at Life Agape-Jerusalem and then an administrator at Beit Al Liqa in Beit Jala before joining Bethlehem Bible College. Shireen was the Dean of Students at Bethlehem Bible College, as well as a lecturer. She is now the Director of Bethlehem Bible College Community & Outreach. She is a leader for women and is involved in a youth ministry that works for rights/reconciliation and leadership.


O LORD, in our fear and through our tears, we cry with the Prophet Isaiah, that you would tear open the heavens and come down to make your name known to your adversaries, so that the nations might tremble at your presence. Until that day, strengthen us to make your name known, through the logic of Christ’s love, in bold acts of nonviolent resistance. In the name of the Prince of Peace, amen.


If there is a demonstration calling for Palestinian freedom and human rights near you, take to the street. If not, write another letter or send another email to your elected officials, calling for an end to Israel’s apartheid and increasing genocide. Please, let us know what action you have taken this week by sending an email to (kairos@kairospalestine.ps).


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