Christians to Send Advent Peace Messages to Bethlehem   2008/11/20
By: Jenna Lyle of Christian Today

The World Council of Churches is asking Christians to send prayers and messages of peace to the birthplace of Jesus this Christmas.

The messages will be collected by the WCC’s Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum and distributed among schools and places of worship in Bethlehem, where the ecumenical body says the people “refuse to give up hope”.

The WCC is urging Christians to concentrate their prayers on justice, peace and security for Palestine and Israel as Christians in the troubled Holy Land prepare for another Christmas in the midst of uncertainty.

It also suggested that the messages and prayers include ideas for non-violent actions to be carried out during Advent.

“Sending a wish or a prayer by e-mail is an important way of communicating with many people who long to hear a word of hope,” said the WCC.

“People in Bethlehem greatly appreciate receiving wishes and prayers from people outside the region, both as personal and spiritual gestures of comfort and hope on the occasion of Christmas.

“These messages are one way of breaking through the isolation they live in.”

A number of Church leaders, including the Archbishop of Canterbury, have previously made Christmas appeals for more Christians to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land at as a gesture of solidarity with the Christian community there.

The collection of prayers and messages for the Holy Land has become an annual tradition since its inception in 2000, and will be orchestrated this year in collaboration with several Christian organisations, including Pax Christi International and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation.

The WCC said the messages and prayers should be emailed to the Arab Educational Institute before January 7, 2009, the date of the Orthodox Christmas.

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