Saturday 25 December 2010

Christmas Around The World

Just click on the photo itself to advance the slides...

Martin Luther King, Jr's Last Christmas Sermon - 1967

I wish Barack Obama would take a page from MLK, Jr. in regards to Afghanistan and some of the other wars America still keeps propping up.  Here's but one excerpt:

"It's one of the strangest things that all the great military geniuses of the world have talked about peace. The conquerors of old who came killing in pursuit of peace, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, and Napoleon, were akin in seeking a peaceful world order. If you will read Mein Kampf closely enough, you will discover that Hitler contended that everything he did in Germany was for peace. And the leaders of the world today talk eloquently about peace. Every time we drop our bombs in North Vietnam, President Johnson talks eloquently about peace. 

What is the problem? They are talking about peace as a distant goal, as an end we seek, but one day we must come to see that peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but that it is a means by which we arrive at that goal. We must pursue peaceful ends through peaceful means. All of this is saying that, in the final analysis, means and ends must cohere because the end is preexistent in the means, and ultimately destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends.

Now let me say that the next thing we must be concerned about if we are to have peace on earth and good will toward men is the nonviolent affirmation of the sacredness of all human life. Every man is somebody because he is a child of God. And so when we say "Thou shalt not kill," we're really saying that human life is too sacred to be taken on the battlefields of the world. Man is more than a tiny vagary of whirling electrons or a wisp of smoke from a limitless smoldering. Man is a child of God, made in His image, and therefore must be respected as such. Until men see this everywhere, until nations see this everywhere, we will be fighting wars. 

One day somebody should remind us that, even though there may be political and ideological differences between us, the Vietnamese are our brothers, the Russians are our brothers, the Chinese are our brothers; and one day we've got to sit down together at the table of brotherhood. But in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. In Christ there is neither male nor female. In Christ there is neither Communist nor capitalist. In Christ, somehow, there is neither bound nor free. We are all one in Christ Jesus. And when we truly believe in the sacredness of human personality, we won't exploit people, we won't trample over people with the iron feet of oppression, we won't kill anybody."

One can read the whole sermon here: "I Have a Dream - Revisited at Christmas"  

Thursday 23 December 2010

Christmas in Bethlehem - 2010

I hope sharing this story far and wide will help the people understand that most Palestinians are not "terrorists," that a substantial portion of the Arab population there are Christians, and that in any case there are many good examples locally where - in spite of all the oppression the population has to sustain - mutual respect and inter-faith relationships are valued and flourish!  Witness the following as a good sample of what most tourists to Israel from other parts of the world rarely get to see or experience -- a great story to enrich one's own understanding especially THIS Christmas season!   -Clair

Bethlehem, Tuesday 20/12/2010

This scene is the Arab Educational Institute holding a Nativity scene in front of the Separation Wall and the military watchtower near Rachel’s Tomb in northern Bethlehem, Palestine. To the left is the shepherd and a donkey. On the watchtower is written: “Once a Teacher of Human Rights was born.” During the occasion, the girl standing in the grotto sang “Silent Night, Holy Night”, while the women’s choir of the Arab Educational Institute performed Christmas and national songs.

Prayers for peace were pronounced that had been coming in through a Christmas appeal to send wishes and prayers to Bethlehem - an initiative of Pax Christi, the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum of the World Council of Churches, Church and Peace, the International Fellowship of Reconciliation, the Presidency of the Conference of European Justice and Peace Commissions, the Asian Center for the Progress of Peoples, and the Commission for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation USG/UISG Secretariat.

The celebration was attended by some 150 civilians, including the mayor of Bethlehem, delegates of the Palestinian Ministry of Education in Ramallah and Bethlehem, dozens of Palestinian teachers and representatives of churches and mosques also from the Bethlehem and Ramallah areas. There were further a visiting group of IKV Pax Christi (a peace movement from the Netherlands), and human rights observers of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program for Peace in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

The scene preceded an occasion of the Arab Educational Institute in which Human Rights Day (Jesus as human rights activist), Teacher’s Day (Jesus as teacher), and Christmas were jointly celebrated with speeches of dignitaries, readings from the Bible and Koran, and Moslem and Christian poetry.

For more information go to:

Two Wonderful Christmas Carols From Down Under the Southern Cross

Carol our Christmas,
an upside down Christmas;
snow is not falling and
trees are not bare.
Carol the summer, and
welcome the Christ Child,
warm in our sunshine and
sweetness of air.

Sing of the gold and the
green and the sparkle,
water and river and
lure of the beach.
Sing in the happiness
of open spaces,
sing a nativity
summer can reach!

Shepherds and musterers
move over hillsides,
finding, not angels,
but sheep to be shorn;
wise ones make journeys
whatever the season,
searching for signs of the
truth to be born.

Right side up Christmas
belongs to the universe,
made in the moment
a woman gives birth;
hope is the Jesus gift,
love is the offering,
everywhere, anywhere,
here on the earth.

Authored by Shirley Erena Murray, New Zealand

Now the star of Christmas
shines into our day,
points a new direction:
change is on the way -
there's another landscape
to be travelled through,
there's a new-born spirit
broadening our view.

When the Christ of Christmas
speaks to heart and mind,
clears the clouded vision
hurting humankind,
kindred spirits gather,
drawn toward the light,
sharing revelation,
joyful at the sight.

If we choose to follow,
we may yet be wise.
Where the three kings travel,
three great faiths arise:
Jesus Christ for Christians,
Jesus, Judah's son,
Prophet for the Muslim,
wisdom in each one.

Where the star enlightens,
light is shared around.
God as drawn no borders,
faith sees common ground:
Peace the hopeful journey,
justice without bar,
God's illumination
from a Christmas star.

-S.E. Murray, New Zealand

Friday 17 December 2010

Christmas Greetings from Clair and Carole Anne, from around the world (Mennonite Mission Network) and my alma mater (Eastern Mennonite University)

Click on THIS for our 2010 Christmas Greeting for family and friends scattered around the world  It includes a Silent Night theme (animation by Jacquie Lawson) and a poignant piece by Australian poet/writer Noel Davis which I embedded at the end.  And don't forget to click on the interesting part explaining "more about the music!"  Enjoy!

And now for a nice world-wide Christmas "collage" from Mennonite Mission Network:

As the finale' on this blog's "concert" today, here's a link to a beautiful choral piece embedded in a Christmas greeting and "light show" from Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, where I studied for my undergraduate degree and graduated in 1975.  -Clair