Representatives of Bethlehem’s major Christian communities, including Greek Orthodox, Syriac, Armenian, Catholic and Lutheran denominations, signed a letter urging US President Joe Biden and the US Congress to press for a permanent ceasefire an end to the Israeli aggression in Gaza. “All we want for Christmas is a constant and comprehensive ceasefire and an end to this war,” the letter said.
“God has placed political leaders in a position of power so that they can bring justice, support those who suffer, and be instruments of God’s peace. We want a constant and comprehensive ceasefire. Enough death. Enough destruction. This is a moral obligation. There must be other ways. This is our call and prayer this Christmas.”
Advent, the season which spiritually prepares all Christians for Christmas, starts next week. However, in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, Bethlehem cancelled Christmas celebrations this year. The festivities traditionally attracted thousands of pilgrims from around the world each year, read the letter.
The letter explained the situation stating: “This should have been a time of joy and hope. This year, it is a season of death and despair. This year, Christmas prayers are the only moment of hope in the middle of this human catastrophe caused by the war. There will be no manifestation of joy for the children. This year, Christmas celebrations are cancelled in Bethlehem.”
Reverend Munther Isaac, pastor of Bethlehem’s Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church and the dean of Bethlehem Bible College, is one of the three leaders travelling to the US. He expressed his deep concern for innocent people suffering in Gaza: “I truly believe that God is in solidarity with those who are victims of injustice and oppression, and thus the church should have the same position.”
We want lawmakers to hear a different perspective. We want to think that there must be other ways. Killing children like this can never bring peace. This cannot be a four or five-day ceasefire and then return to the same destruction, the letter added.
“All we want for Christmas is a constant and comprehensive ceasefire and an end to this war.," the letter concluded.