In a shadowed recess of the Palestinian church, a round, shallow, metal container filled with sand holds the lighted candles of worshipper and visitor to the Easter service. As more candles are lighted and placed in containers around the sanctuary, the darkness of the sanctuary fades. The service engages us with music, words, and movement. People enter, pause to light a taper, and briefly pray before finding a seat in the sanctuary. The pews are filled. The hymns sung slowly with strong voices, a few tunes sound familiar to our Western ears.
This image of shadows diminished by light illustrates the final statement in the Kairos Palestine document. www.kairospalestine.ps “In the absence of all hope, we cry out our cry of hope.” (10.) Out of the darkness of hopelessness comes the light of faith, hope, and love. (1.5) Out of the occupied Palestinian territories comes “a document of faith and work.” (A Message from the Authors)
The words of the Kairos Palestine document, written by clergy and laity of thirteen Christian communions, issue a call to local Christians, Palestinian and Israeli religious and political leaders and civil society, the international community, and to Christians and churches around the world. Now is the Kairos time, they write, God’s time breaking in, to heed the reality of Palestinian daily life. This time set aside for creative resistance (4.2.3) to the issues of military occupation which dictate and control the lives of people residing in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The call to “engage in divestment and in an economic and commercial boycott of everything produced by the occupation” (4.2.6) recognizes that the investments of our churches and the products we buy define our values. While we may want a good return on how we spend our money, there are many avenues for us to use when making our investments and our personal purchases. To divest or boycott says we will not contribute to the restrictions of daily life placed upon the Palestinians. Rather, we accompany the Palestinians as they seek a just resolution whereby Christians, Muslims and Jews can live in the land as neighbors.
The second call of the Kairos Palestine document is to “come and see.” (6.2) Come and experience the hospitality of the Palestinians and walk with them in their daily lives. See the ancient places, the religious sites, but especially meet the people who live and work and farm in the occupied territories.
Meet the farmer who waits in line each morning for the barb wire and metal gates to open so he, his wife and dog can drive their tractor and cart to their fields, now on the other side of this barrier. Some days the gates stay closed or their pass is declared insufficient and they are refused entry. Accept an invitation from a village leader to a delicious meal finished off by a cup of Arabic coffee or hot tea. He shares how the farm land is intentionally polluted by refuse from the nearby illegal Israeli settlement and the children are harassed by settlers as they walk to school.
Meet the children at Rawdat el Zuhur in East Jerusalem where along with math and English they learn about Palestinian culture and form a dance troop. Visit a women’s group in a refugee camp where they share their handiwork skills and market their crafts, experiencing a sense of dignity and accomplishment. Come and see. End the shadows of occupation with the light of faith, hope and love.
John and Faye Buttrick serve as Long-term Volunteers in Palestine. They are based in Concord, NH. They are responsible for the coordination of and contribution of a monitoring project in consultation with members of the Kairos Palestine office based in Bethlehem. Their appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples' Mission Fund, Our Churches Wider Mission, and your special gifts.