AEI Pax Christi Bethlehem Christmas Message

“The Rebirth of Humanity in a Time of Conflict”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the face of trials, injustices, atrocities, and the heartbreaking loss of life, especially among children, civilians, and the elderly, as well as the destruction of all of God’s creatures, particularly in the Holy Land of the three monotheistic religions, I urge the peoples of the free world, the governments of great powers, fellow Arab leaders, and all individuals of goodwill to join in reflecting on the true essence of Christmas: Humanity.

Let us express our humanity not only through prayers and a deepening of our faith, hope, and love in God but also through humanitarian actions and deeds. It is imperative that we actively work to halt acts of evil, violence, and provide unconditional humanitarian aid for those suffering in this catastrophic and bloody war. Additionally, we must swiftly intervene to impose a ceasefire, mobilize international protection, and deploy peacekeeping forces on the path to implementing all UN resolutions related to ending occupation and addressing the root causes of the conflict. In doing so, we can collectively strive to restore humanity to its bright, Godly image.

May this Christmas inspire a commitment to compassion, justice, and peace, and may our actions reflect the true spirit of the season.

May these Advent, Christmas, and New Year seasons, which we strive to remember rather than celebrate as the people of the Holy Land amidst pain, human losses, suffering, and displacement, become moments of joy, justice, freedom, security, and salvation for all of us as equal humans created in the image of God.

In conclusion, AEI Pax Christi in Bethlehem extends hope and makes an earnest appeal to all to exert influence on the global powers driven by economic interests, urging them to foster a better, more peaceful world of friendship.
May the approaching New Year mark a decisive period to bring an end to occupation, allowing all the living stones in the Holy Land to recognize their humanity and dignity as free, peaceful nations, enjoying full rights for all.

Wishing a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All Humanity
“Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Christmas Hymn:

We are in Christmas when Jesus Christ is born in our hearts and when we apply and live and serve the causes of justice, equality, peace and love as mentioned in our Christmas Arabic Carol.
When we give a cup of water for the thirst, we are in Christmas.
When we clothe the naked, out of love we are in Christmas.
When we wipe out tears from others’ eyes, we are in Christmas.
When I kiss my friend without cheating, I’m in Christmas.
When I get rid of the spirit of revenge, I’m in Christmas
When I melted into the entity of God, I’m in Christmas
On the Christmas Eve, hatred erased, on the Christmas Eve the earth blooms
On the Christmas Eve war will stop
On the Christmas Eve, love sprouts
To end up let us all try to deepen our faith in God in ourselves, in our sumud or resilience, pray and sing with the angels: ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will’.

AEI Activities during the Gaza War 2023

In response to the Gaza War of 2023, the Arab Educational Institute (AEI) actively participated in various initiatives to address the crisis, extend solidarity, and advocate for peace and justice in the region. Below is an overview of our activities:

  1. Prayer and Fasting Response: A prayer and fasting session took place in response to the call by the World Council of Churches and local Heads of Churches to observe a day of prayer and fasting on the 16th and 17th of October.
  2. Candlelight vigil: AEI members came together for a candlelight vigil at Manger Square in front of the Nativity Church, on October 18.
  3. Zoom Meeting with the World Council of Churches: WCC’s Advisory Board members of the Joint Liaison Office (JLO) and its General Secretary organized a Zoom meeting to listen to the World Council of Churches’ partners. The goal was to gain insights into the catastrophic situation in Gaza and engage in discussions on potential responses.
  4. Information Gathering: AEI staff conducted interviews with friends and international organizations, such as Arigatou, to gather more information about the ongoing realities during the Gaza War, aiming to get a deeper understanding of the situation.
  5. Expression Session for Women’s Group: AEI’s Women’s Group conducted a session called “Let Out” to discuss the ongoing and distressing new Naqba. Facilitated by Mrs. Sandrine Hilal, Head of Psychology Al Yawm, along with Mrs. Rania Murra and Mr. Fuad Giacaman, participants, including Mr. Sandrine, shared the harrowing experiences of their families in Gaza who were directly affected by bombings and violence.
  6. Sharing Personal Reflections and Stories: AEI encouraged its members, including women, teachers, youth, and staff, to share their personal reflections, analyses, live testimonies, and stories. These accounts were shared with foreign funders, friends, peace activists, churches, and organizations.
  7. Advocating for Peace and Justice: The reactions expressed not only fear and worry about the ongoing crisis but also the Palestinian people’s resilience, faith in God, in themselves, and the support of individuals, groups, and nations working for peace. AEI actively called for an end to the catastrophic war and for Israel to adhere to UN resolutions related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
  8. Solidarity Initiatives: AEI individuals and groups showed solidarity and sympathy with our brothers and sisters in Gaza through acts of love, giving, and empathy.
  9. Dissemination of Statements: AEI shared the statements of the Pax Christi International Movement, Heads of the Churches, and local Palestinian theologians and Christian organizations. These statements addressed a global audience, highlighting the continued cycle of violence due to the presence of military occupation, injustice, and the absence of a peaceful settlement for the conflict.

Throughout the Gaza War, AEI remained dedicated to its mission of promoting peace with justice through dialogue and nonviolence. We actively engaged with the local and international community to address the pressing issues at hand, driven by the shared hope for a more peaceful and just future for all in the region.

Prayers from Bethlehem

  1. My Lord Jesus Christ, You were born in Bethlehem, seeking refuge in Egypt to escape Herod’s tyranny. Today, we implore You to protect the children and infants of Gaza. Let the little ones come to You, for Yours is the kingdom of heaven. Lord, shield Your children from the horrors of violence.
  2. Almighty God, children, women, and the elderly in the midst of this bloody war have no escape from its terrors. We pray for Your mercy on those who have lost their lives and healing for the wounded.
  3. Lord of Mercy, the people of Gaza and the Holy Land have been traumatized by this new Nakba. Grant them Your support, comfort, and healing. Bestow wisdom, steadfastness, and safety upon all, especially the innocent children.
  4. God of all humanity, we, the children of Bethlehem, appeal to You to save our brothers and sisters in Gaza from death, starvation, and hopelessness. Save our childhood and grant us peace.
  5. God of all humanity, during our expression session, we, SSH/AEI women, Christians, and Muslims, pray for Your mercy on all believers killed or injured, especially the children in the Gaza Orthodox Church, nearby mosques, and hospitals. Heal those escaping air raids and rockets.
  6. We pray for an immediate end to the devastating war in Gaza. May God protect all people in Palestine.
  7. Lord, as a child from Bethlehem, seeing the suffering of Gaza’s children moves me to tears. Strengthen the parents and help the children in the camps survive this civil war.
  8. Lord Jesus Christ, You taught us to love our enemies. Guide me, as a child, in finding ways to love those who have caused harm to my innocent brothers and sisters.
  9. Creator, help the children and mothers who fled hospitals during air raids and rockets. Assist me, a child from the West Bank, in bearing the weight of these TV scenes, especially when they haunt my dreams.
  10. Savior Jesus Christ, I cry and pray like You on the cross, “My God, why have You forsaken me?” Come and save Your children, putting an end to these crimes against Your people.
  11. When will you grant us the freedom to live in joy, peace, and safety as the children of this Holy Land?
  12. In the Gospel, I read about Herod’s atrocities against the babies and children of Bethlehem. I fear that a similar crime may befall us, the children of Bethlehem. God of mercy, give us strength and safeguard all Your children here and in Gaza.
  13. Jesus, You taught me to love my neighbor as I love myself. Help me care for and protect myself and my neighbors amidst these economic challenges, especially my parents whose work has come to a halt.
  14. Oh Lord of mercy, we raise our voices in prayer for an immediate ceasefire, an end to human losses, and the destruction in Gaza.
  15. Our Almighty God, we lift our eyes to Your Heavenly Throne, asking for more steadfastness and resistance (sumud) for our Palestinian brothers and sisters under this horrific situation.
  16. Prince of Peace, bestow Your peace upon Your Holy Land.
  17. My God of love, grant world leaders the wisdom to exert pressure on the occupation, freeing our Palestinian people from continuous nakbas – catastrophes, on the path to justice, peace, security, and prosperity for all.
  18. “My peace I give, not as the world gives.”
  19. May the world of economic interests awaken to the idea that “a world of friends is a world of peace.”
  20. Enough is enough. Now is the time for Your justice and peace to prevail, O Lord of justice.
  21. The rights to life, self-defense, and self-determination are sacred, encompassing human, religious, political, and civil rights for all of God’s beings. Teach each of us, O Lord, how to protect and defend them.
  22. Lord of mercy, inspire people of goodwill to act swiftly in saving the civilians of this bloody war by providing them with essential humanitarian needs: water, food, medicine, and fuel.
  23. May the Lord have mercy on those who have been killed. Lord, grant healing to those who are wounded and provide shelter for those who are displaced.
  24. My Lord, in these difficult trials, enlighten the world leaders to deploy a U.N. international peacekeeping force to protect Your people in the Holy Land.
  25. Let us pray to God to guide each one of us in spreading the message of God, faith, hope, and love to achieve justice, equality, freedom, peace, and security for all.
  26. We also pray that, in accordance with the teachings of all religions, we may love our common God and our common Earth. May we appeal to God and all His believers to grant us His peace and inspire initiatives to stop the bloodshed. Let us practice reason in recognizing one another’s rights.