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Saturday, March 19

Reflection: Looking beyond the walls in Bethlehem 

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called chil-dren of God.” 

Matthew 5:9 

This Lenten journey has become a time for me to reflect on ways that we can live as peacemakers. And I certainly look to the direction from Jesus’s words in the Beatitudes.

In my time in Bethlehem and the Holy Land, I am struck by how “at peace” I feel when I finally reach Christmas Lutheran Church and witness the ministries that emanate from the people who live in a state of occupation. Not peaceful, but full of peacemaking through sharing of creativity in the midst of daily living that is difficult and challenging. Through programs and education that focus on art, music, theater, filmmaking and culture, these ministries stir up creative resistance that dares to look beyond the walls that now surround the town.

Speaking from the perspective of the Christmas Church in Bethlehem, Rev. Mitri Raheb reflects, “We have often focused in this context on a strong message for peace. But I believe also that part of the problem we have in the Middle East is that we have a lot of peace talkers. The Israelis and the Palestinians have been talking peace for 20 years while Israel has been building more and more settlements and occupying more land.”

He adds, “I think Jesus knew exactly how to choose his words when he said ‘blessed are the peace-makers’, not ‘the peace talkers.’”

It is in this place that I more fully understand what Luther understood. That God’s spoken word is that of creative power, not information. When God speaks, God’s word cre-ates what it declares. So then it is being aware and open to God’s word as it speaks creative ways to walk in these days. Jesus makes the new world of God’s rule actual now in this broken world.

Gracious God, show us the power of your words, even in days of struggle, to hear your word and the power of your creative spirit to be peacemakers. Amen. 

Beth Nelson Chase 

Beth is executive director of Bright Stars of Bethlehem. 

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