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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Letter from Bishop Younan

"For Christ is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken the dividing walls of hostility."

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

I greet you on behalf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, all of our people and pastors, congregations and centers, schools and educational programs. I greet you from your sisters and brothers living behind the Wall.

How I wish I could be there at this important conference to struggle with you about this crucial ministry of breaking down the walls that divide us. As you will hear, the wall that is surrounding us in Palestine is growing every day into a tighter concrete noose around our cities, towns, homes and churches.

Yet the concrete wall is symbolic of the larger walls of resentment, oppression, fear and frustration that are being constructed by this and by the larger trends of politics, militarization and religious extremism that threaten to encircle all of us in our own ghettoes of fear and isolation.

Yet, even standing face to face with these obstacles, we hear a different call: to break down the walls of hostility through the ministry of reconciliation. Even in the face of oppression and violence, we are called to be prophets for justice, instruments of peace, voices of hope, and hands of healing and reconciliation.

I dream of the day no more walls of hate, demonization or stigmatization will separate us.

I dream of the day Palestinian farmers can enter their own fields without gates or permits.

I dream of the day I can place on my table next to a piece of the Berlin Wall a piece of the wall that used to surround us.

I dream of the day Palestinian and Israeli children no longer wonder about each other on the other side but instead work together to transform the huge, heavy foundations of concrete walls into tables of reconciliation.

I dream of the day we won't talk about my Jerusalem or your Jerusalem but our shared Jerusalem.
But we all know we must do more than dream. Thank you for engaging this important work, and may God bless you during this conference with wisdom and insight and stir up within you courage and imagination to go forth from here inspired and led to break down the walls that divide and reconcile us with one another and God.

One day, in the not too distant future, I pray that when you come to visit us in the Holy Land, I will only be able to show you pictures of the wall that once divided us here.

As we say in Arabic: Ahlan wa Sahlan!

Your brother in Christ,

Bishop Dr. Munib Younan
Evangelical Lutheran Chruch in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL)

Text of a letter delivered to conference participants by Rana Khoury, deputy general director of the International Center in Bethlehem.

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