May God Bless you all this Christmas. May the Lord Jesus whose birth we are celebrating the world over bring a message of Peace and Compassion to those of you unable to enter Bethlehem the place of Jesus birth. Let us all pray for a spirit of reconciliation on all sides of the conflict which has been ongoing for many years. As I sit here in Sydney, Australia I am overcome and deeply saddened with the difference we as Christians in a free democratic country are able to live our lives in peace compared to what you as Christians are faced with this Christmas. I pray especially for the children of the Middle East, who look up at night to see the same stars on which you gaze with hope and wonder. May all who share the same sky learn to share the same land, making peace and seeking justice.
God Bless you all and let our hearts all be filled with compassion this Christmas for those of you unable to celebrate Christs birth in your own land.
I would like to tell you a story about oppression in my homeland. Australia has treated its indigenous population with much injustice and great oppression over many years which one would expect them to be bitter, resentful, and genuinely angry for the many wrongs done to them. However the exact opposite is the case. I recently went on a trip out into the north western part of our state New South Wales on what is called an immersion trip the purpose of which is to meet and learn from the traditional indigenous elders about their ancient ways of life and their culture and also we visited sites of massacres which are of great significance to both the black and white population. The elders in all the communities we visited were beautiful people who were happy to share their stories of how they are recording their histories and preserving their cultures and language for the young indigenous to carry with them and understand what has gone before them. What totally surprised me was the lack of bitterness of these elders, they were dignified, wonderful and extremely friendly and willing to share and talk with us. These elders are full of hope that they can preserve at least some of their ancient cultures to be passed onto future generations. Their calmness, peace and beautiful dignity is a wonderful example of how one can achieve justice in a peaceful and non-violent way.
Voici un « message pour la Paix » selon la demande de messages diffusée dans le numéro de Pax Info de Décembre 2011. Ce texte est un conte que j’ai composé à partir d’un passage de l’Epître aux Hébreux (ch. 13 versets 1-2) dans un groupe de conteurs œcuménique.
Je vous en souhaite bonne réception.
Nous prions, mon mari et moi, pour la Paix au Moyen Orient.
C’est le soir,
Comme des ombres chinoises, les sommets escarpés des montagnes se découpent sur le ciel gris.
On est entre chien et loup.
Ces jours passés, c’était terrible : le bruit des tirs de fusils, des explosions,
le cri des blessés.
Ce soir les kalachnikofs se sont tues.
Dans sa maison, Aïcha soulève le coin du rideau de la fenêtre de sa cuisine. Tout est maintenant calme dans le village en contrebas.
« c’est le moment de sortir » se dit Aïcha.
Elle prend un seau pour aller chercher de l’eau à la fontaine.
Elle traverse le jardin, tire le verrou, mais impossible de pousser la porte,
quelque chose derrière l’en empêche. Elle se penche au-dessus de la porte : un cri d’effroi lui échappe, c’est un corps allongé !
De toutes ses forces elle entrouvre la porte : un espace lui permet de se glisser à l’extérieur. C’est un soldat qui est là, un soldat ennemi, sans connaissance, du sang séché sur le bras.
Elle regarde alentour : personne. Il faut agir vite ! Elle le prend sous les épaules, le tire pour arriver à ouvrir la porte. A grand peine elle le tire dans le jardin jusqu’au pied des deux marches qui conduisent à la maison.
Elle reprend son souffle. L’étranger ouvre les yeux. Aïcha se met un doigt
sur sa bouche : pas de bruit pour entrer dans la maison !
Elle installe l’étranger sur un tapis le long de la paroi de la cuisine.
De nouveau un signe sur la bouche : Silence !
Elle ressort rapidement pour aller chercher de l’eau.
De retour elle lave rapidement la plaie du blessé.
Tout d’un coup un bruit de toux parvient d’une pièce au fond de la maison. C’est la toux d’un homme malade.
Au cours des jours, la femme soigne le blessé qui, petit à petit se remet.
Mais, toujours le doigt qui barre la bouche
et toujours la toux de plus en plus forte….
Quelques jours plus tard, le soldat est guéri. La toux, elle, est de plus en plus forte, et rauque. L’étranger n’y tient plus ; il est infirmier…. Il sort de
son sac des médicaments qu’il montre à la femme, et tant bien que mal,
lui montre les doses à appliquer.
C’est bientôt la nuit, le soldat étranger se prépare à partir.
Un bref mais intense échange de regards entre Aïcha et le soldat.
Il sort, ouvre la porte du jardin et s’en va….
L’homme à la toux est guéri, c’est le fils d’Aïcha, c’est un soldat résistant.
Pourquoi Aïcha a-t-elle soigné ainsi l’ennemi de son fils ?
Afin que :
« l’amour fraternel demeure,
n’oubliez pas l’hospitalité car c’est grâce à elle,
que quelques uns, sans le savoir ont hébergé des anges »
lettre aux Hébreux ch. 13,1-2
A Story of Peacebuilding
How World War II enemies turned to friends
This is the story that a member of the German Pax Christi section, the Catholic priest Fritz Leinung from Kleve, told us in an interview:
In April 1980, the 1000th anniversary of Otto III, the emperor who was born in the “Reichswald” close to Kleve, was approaching. This emperor had a vision of a united Europe including the Slavs.
The city of Kleve showed no interest in ceremonies, but the Polish bishops invited a delegation from Kleve to Warsaw. During a great open air service with 60 000 participants, the people from Kleve handed a gift to the primate: a picture of Otto III.’s vision.
After these positive experiences in Poland, ceremonies in Kleve were planned for the coming May. But the climate between the German and the Polish bishops had become rather cold at that time (because of a disagreement about school book texts). The Polish bishops didn’t come to the Catholic Conference in Berlin, but they accepted the invitation to Kleve!
The question was how to create a good atmosphere for the talks. In all the churches of Kleve the Christians learnt to sing the Polish song „Sw. Wojcziech“. The flags of Kleve and Emmerich (a neighbour city on the river Rhine), red-and-white each, were hoisted upside-down, so that die main streets of Kleve showed the Polish colours! So the bishops experienced that not all Germans are revanchists! Due to the relaxed atmosphere, good conversations could be developed. In 1982 the Polish bishops came to the Catholic Conference in Duesseldorf.
Contacts to the Netherlands were built up later. For a long time the Dutch didn’t want Germans to take part in the annual ceremonies that commemorate the Day of Liberation. The ice was broken through a British pilot, Mr Hamleigh, who had thrown bombs on Kleve in the end of the Second World War, had visited Kleve some years before, had asked for forgiveness and made reconciliation possible that way. In September 1994, citizens of Kleve were invited to Nijmegen in the Netherlands to take part in the event called “Remember Arnhem” (the bombing of the Dutch city by the Germans). The people from Kleve overcame their inhibitions and accepted the invitation when they heard that Mr Hamleigh would be there, too. So it would be an international delegation! The mayor of Nijmegen would give a speech and his German colleague from Kleve was allowed to do the same. A lot of cameras caught the pictures of this day’s highlight: the delegation from Kleve shipping across the river Rhine from Emmerich to Nijmegen! In the following year the Germans were allowed not only to take part in the commemoration ceremonies but to lay a wreath at the memorial in Nijmegen. And in the next year it was even possible to print the German name of the sponsors on the ribbon!
This story shows how small the first steps of reconciliation are. In the beginning, there must be a begging for pardon.
Veronika Huening, pax christi Germany
2011 Christmas and New Year messages to Bethlehem
from the Chapel of Unity, Coventry Cathedral, UK
If we all work and pray hard enough, peace will come to you, people of Bethlehem.
God Bless you all. Rita
Peace for all in 2012 for all families, communities and the world.
The strength of the people in Bethlehem is like a star shining. May you continue to smile and be supported by all.
The Holy Land is a piece of the heart of all people of the world.
Let peace come again to you there and to us.
That my grandchildren and all the grandchildren of the world will find peace.
I pray for your peace and strength in the Lord. S
Our Christmas cards showing Bethlehem remind us to pray for you all
– for Peace and Justice.
Peace on earth.
Deep peace in the midst of suffering – our prayers. David
True peace in my heart, so I am part of the answer not the problem. N x
You are in our hearts and prayers as we celebrate this Christmas time.
Holy Rosary Sisters, Coventry
Peace in all our families.
2011 Christmas and New Year messages to Bethlehem
from children visiting
the Chapel of Unity, Coventry Cathedral, UK
The star of Bethlehem is the peace and kindness in your heart.
Luke, aged 10
Father Christmas will come to all children.
Emily, aged 3yrs
Dear Bethlehem – hope for peace always, love Megan
For Bethlehem. Katie
Peace on Earth
The following children left their names on stars as their message to you: