Merry Christmas

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An American reverend explains why she’s standing in solidarity with Christian Palestinians this season and exhorts members of her community to demand a ceasefire in Gaza.


All I want for Christmas is peace in Gaza

Perhaps for the first time since the birth of Christ more than 2,000 years ago, Christians in Bethlehem have decided to forego Christmas celebrations in the little town where Jesus was born.

They will continue to worship and host religious services, but rather than express celebrations of joy, they will lament and grieve the ongoing death of thousands of their Palestinian brothers and sisters in Gaza as a result of Israel’s relentless military campaign in Gaza.

Earlier this month, several dozen Christian denominations and organisations co-convened a Christmas Ceasefire Service in Washington, DC in solidarity with Christians in Bethlehem and throughout the Middle East, calling for an end to the bombing of Gaza and the devastating effects on the civilians living there.


A visitor lights a candle inside the Church of the Nativity in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem on December 13, 2023, less than two weeks before Christmas amid continuing battles between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

The culminating speaker, Rev. William Young IV, pastor of Covenant Baptist United Church of Christ in Washington, D.C., and the American Baptist Church board member of Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP), read a letter written by several Palestinian Christian pastoral leaders from the occupied city of Bethlehem that had been addressed to US President Joe Biden.

Delivered the week prior, three Palestinian Christians from Jerusalem and Bethlehem had come to Washington to advocate for a comprehensive ceasefire that would stop all violence and bring an end to the war on Gaza.

The letter states, “We are writing to plead with you to stop this war. God has placed political leaders in a position of power to 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.” The entire letter can be read here.

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