On the Thursday before Christmas, a few of my friends gathered together to discuss Athanasius’s On the Incarnation As we pondered the mystery of God coming to earth to inhabit a human body in order to reconcile His creation to Himself, we couldn’t help but look at each other and whisper in awe, “Hallelujah.” The more I’m reminded of what the incarnation means, the more my eyes widen, my soul bows down, and my entire being wants to cry out in praise.
And now it’s December 29th. What do we do with our joyful cries at Advent and awestruck whispers at the manger after Christmas Day has come and gone? Does the Incarnation impact our daily practices and habits on January 1st as much as it does on December 25th?
God with us – Emmanuel – forever changes our lives and all lives. But we still must answer the question, how then do we live? As I scroll through headlines and read of renewed violence or plans for further entrenchment in misguided and inflammatory policies...what do I do?
Two and half years ago, I found myself struggling to wrap my mind and my heart around the appropriate response when faced with the injustices, complexities, and the great weight of the ongoing cycle of pain and conflict in the Holy Land. Should I give funds to help development work in the West Bank? Should I volunteer with an advocacy organization back in the States? Many options emerged. But there was never a shred of doubt that I was called by my God to be a peacemaker—in the Holy Land and everywhere.
2 Corinthians 5: 18-20 clearly states that Christ’s ministry of reconciliation – manifested in the ultimate act of love through dying on the cross for our sins – has been passed on to us. He has “entrusted us the message of reconciliation,” making us “ambassadors” of peace and reconciliation to all the world.
There are countless Palestinians and Israelis who defy stereotypes and refuse to be enemies. Instead of turning their back on the other, they choose to follow the footsteps of Emmanuel when He walked the same streets that they walk today. From Tent of Nations to Jewish Voice for Peace to Musalaha, and others, the ministry of reconciliation is being done in the Holy Land.
I believe it is my role as a Christian to stand with these peacemakers. When confronted with an all-powerful God who endured the Incarnation and death to bring reconciliation between Himself and me and between myself and others, I cannot do otherwise.