December 10, 2019
By Will Postma
How quickly Advent arrives.
As part of our 30th wedding anniversary celebrations, my wife, Rebecca, and I travelled to the Holy Land in November. We had the privilege of staying with a Palestinian Christian family in Bethlehem for a week.
We were a five-minute walk from the calm of ‘Shepherds Field’ and a 20-minute walk from the bustle of Manger Square, where the Church of the Nativity welcomes the curious and the faithful. In the evening, with our hosts, we shared a meal of hummus, falafel, baba ganoush and warm pita, sharing hopes for peace and understanding in the region.
It was my joy to spend time with Dr. Suheila Tarazi and her staff at Arab Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City. PWRDF funds are making it possible for the medical staff to treat infections and kidney stones, caused by contaminated drinking water. With the oversight of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the hospital does so much more – surgery, rehabilitation, breast cancer detection and managing an innovative mother’s empowerment program. Better health and peace for Gazans is possible, says Dr. Tarazi. For Archbishop Suheil Dawani, the health work in Gaza and the whole diocese, brings hope and healing. It demonstrates our faith in action.
We met Palestinian refugees, Eritrean refugees, Canadian government staff, Christian pilgrims from Kerala, Kenya and Kentucky, Diocesan program staff and the very committed and compassionate management of the Jerusalem Diocese’s Princess Basma Centre, doing life-changing work in occupational therapy, rehabilitation and education.
From our home stay in Bethlehem, we could see Jerusalem, on the other side of the wall. We could see the Church of the Pater Noster on the Mount of Olives, where the Lord’s Prayer is written on the walls of the church in more than 100 languages, including Frisian, the language of my parents. And we can imagine not so far away and not so long ago, in the Judean Desert and Galilee foothills, those still-prophetic words of Scripture to care for the widow, the orphan, the fatherless… to do justice, to love compassion and to walk humbly with our God.
How quickly Advent arrives, and sets in motion four weeks of great anticipation. How deeply we need the message of the newborn child, of peace, of good news of great joy for all.
We pray for a joyful and restful Christmas season for you, your families and all who are close to you.