St John the Baptist Parish Church

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News from the clergy

Vicar's column - January 2018

Tensions are running high again in the Land that is called “Holy”, thanks to President Trump and his ill conceived declaration that America is to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Protests have been triggered throughout the Palestinian territories and the Arab world. It is not a good time for riots. Palestinians need tourists at Christmas to support the local economy.

At the time of Christ’s birth, the nation of Israel had suffered a long Roman occupation, now the tables have turned and Israel is the occupying force, aided by Zionist settlers from abroad. Whatever the failings on either side, at the end of the day, the situation in Israel and Palestine is characterised by a huge power imbalance. Many Palestinians are denied a normal existence in the land of their birth.

Other ventures into Palestinian territory make more hopeful and heart warming viewing. BBC 2’s The Alternativity, televised on 17th December, has Danny Boyle travelling to Bethlehem, on the direction of Banksy, to stage a nativity in the car park of his The Walled Off Hotel. Channel 4 has also commissioned a documentary, Scousers in a Manger, to be broadcast over the Christmas period. It follows a group of Liverpudlians, who journey back to where Christmas began. For the last five years they have set out to decorate Manger Square in Bethlehem, in time for Christmas.

Once more, into the mix of conflict and suffering in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and throughout the world comes the Christ child. We long for peace in the turmoil of today, clinging onto hope, and reflecting on the promise of Emmanuel, God with us, the Great Comforter, the Prince of Peace; a helpless baby who brings light into the darkness, and comfort and peace to a broken world and broken hearts.

Rev Lisa Cornwell