Christmas 2023: How do you find hope in the midst of genocide?

Christmas in Bethlehem1

Gaza is going through a murderous genocide at the hands of a barbaric Israeli army assault. It is in this context that Christians around the world must find solidarity in the call of the Heads of Churches in Palestine who have called on their people to desist from Christmas celebrations.

It’s a hard-hitting call that demands sacrifice and a deep understanding of what it means to be a human community. While bright lights, fancy decorations, classy gifts, (an imaginary Santa Claus), parties, booze and dances are the culture of modern Christmas, this has been deprived to the people of Palestine who live in uncertainty not knowing when their homes will be bombed or a random sharp shooter will kill a kid. Every 30 minutes, a child is killed.

At least 18,787 people, including more than 7,700 children, have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, according to Palestinian officials in less than six weeks. Schools, hospitals, and offices, of relief agencies lie in ruins making welfare and relief near-impossible.

It is easy for Churches, priests, and Christian leaders to insist that we must live in hope. The anguish in Gaza and in multiple cities in the West Bank leave the notion of hope looking empty.

What is the sacrifice we can each make in the here and now for the children of Gaza who have no shelter? No crib for a bed. Not even a cow-shed.

But we’re not talking about Gaza alone or Bethlehem, or Jenin or Jerusalem or a dozen other cities and villages where people live in terror and anxiety. Around the world, the Manger scene is played out for migrants, the rural and urban poor, street children, slum dwellers living under polluted conditions.

It is not a Merry Christmas for millions upon millions. Their tragedy drags on for an eternity – even until they die. Hope is the only instrument we have in this dire state of affairs?

We are saddened at how those who have no hope survive this cold shelter less Christmas time. Our hearts are heavy with the burdens our suffering sisters and brothers live through. We can utter all the words of sadness at the killing of our brothers and sisters. The challenge is to lift up our eyes and fix them on Christ alone. (Heb 12:2.). Amidst persecution, we must worship in spirit and truth, and continue to worship and offer our treasures like the wise men to Him, who has set us free and secured life and eternity before us.

Meanwhile cancel Christmas celebrations because this is not time to celebrate!

Ranjan Solomon is a political commentator

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