The First Sabeel International Gathering took place in Bethlehem 2-7 December.
It is said that theology is like a cross which vertically leads humanity to God, and horizontally leads us to our neighbour. For Palestinian Christians, this link was damaged during the Nakba. Unable to go back to our former theological thinking while struggling to find a way forward. Whether it was Western feelings of guilt, the theology of Christian literalists, or the ideology of Zionism, the bible was used to grant approval to the tragedy of the Palestinian people.
This is the Faith Nakba, from which various Palestinian Christian theologies have sprung. Sabeel believe it is now time to celebrate these theologies, the answers they provide, and the questions they raise; and to gather to recommit ourselves to keep on the struggle until justice, liberation, and peace are realized.
Sabeel has been able, over the years, to address many pertinent issues including that of Jerusalem, Christian Zionism, Jubilee, Palestinian Christianity, the Bible, and many others. In our 1st international gathering we explored some of the pressing issues that challenge and threaten the very existence of Palestinians. Confronting and addressing these issues are an essential part of our faith and commitment to both oppressed and oppressors. We must take seriously the words of Christ to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.
What was special about this gathering?
- Working within the Christian community
This gathering brought together various organisations working for a just peace in Palestine and Israel. Sabeel believe that, in order for work towards justice and peace to be effective, it needs to be a joint effort. Therefore, we brought together the following organisations from a variety of backgrounds: Kairos Palestine, Bethlehem Bible College, Musalaha, al-Liqa, and Dar al-Kalima. Each organisation concentrated on a specific topic from cultural resistance to Christian Zionism.
- Nonviolent action to achieve a just peace
Taking the lead from the Kumi Now initiative the gathering explored how, alongside organisations from across the world, we can form a worldwide community of action to achieve a just peace in the land of the Holy One.
We explored how Kumi Now works, it’s effects so far, and heard from some of the organisations involved in the first year of the project.
Based on the principles of inclusivity, justice (in accordance with international law), and nonviolence, we will seek to develop on the work of the Kumi Now project and, with the help of various speakers, will begin to explore how this can be developed internationally, creating a Kumi Now Global initiative to sit alongside Kumi Now Palestine.
I gave a short presentation on the theme of Advent and deconstructed the deeply destructive view of the future held by many Christian Zionists.
One of the highlights of the week was a return visit to meet Daoud Nasser at the Tent of Nations.