This report is about Christians listening to the cry from our Christian sisters and brothers. They cry out to us to help Israel and its occupation. The end of the occupation is the key to peace in this troubled land of The Holy One as is the renouncing of violence by all. All the peoples yearn for security but security only follows from justice, not the other way around. And justice is the prophetic priority for all God’s people, as students of the bible know well.
In the bible we learn of The Chosen People. Who are they and what are they chosen for? Genesis tells us again and again that God choose Abraham and makes a covenant with Abraham and his heirs. A covenant being a two-sided agreement with obligations on both parties, like marriage. God’s covenant with the Children of Israel, Abraham’s heirs, is that he will be their God and they will be his people if they walk humbly before God, obey God’s laws and are a light to the nations.
Of course, Israel today is not the same as Israel in the bible. In the bible, Israel refers to the people of Abraham’s descendants who are in covenant with God. Israel today is a modern, secular State, created in 1948. Where, if you live in the West Bank: Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, there is no freedom of travel, no freedom to leave the country and return, no freedom to plant your olive trees or tend your land, no freedom to marry and live together where you choose.
Last Sunday marked the anniversary of my ordination into The Methodist Church. It was 26 years ago (I was very young at the time!). For years I cherished the Galatians text: “In Christ there is no longer male or female.” Now I read it properly: “In Christ there is no longer male or female, slave or free, Jew or Greek – we could say ‘Jew or Arab’ – we are all one in Christ. We are heirs of Abraham and so inheritors of the promise to Abraham.”
Jesus, who makes with us a New Covenant which transforms us utterly, never speaks of the land or owning it; he speaks of the Kingdom and joining it and invites us to do so. He teaches us God is not a racist God who has favourites. God loves all his children and blesses them.
“What is it God requires of you?” asks Micah today. “To do justice, to show mercy, walk humbly with God.” So we look for the day when that is true for all of Abraham’s children – Christian, Muslim and Jew – that they can live together freely and know God’s justice and peace.