Before going into worship at the Lutheran Church in Beit Sahour, I stopped in across the street to Eastern Orthodox Christian worship; a packed house of about 500, men in front women and kids in the rear. The attendance at the Lutheran church was a bit more modest, about 25. But when they sang – wow, and how powerful to hear Palestinians sing; O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home. Under the shadow of thy throne, still may we dwell secure; sufficient is thine arm alone,and our defense is sure.
Renting a Palestinian car allows you to roam around Palestine, but you are not allowed to leave it, consequently when I tried to pass through the wall into Israel, I was not permitted. When I asked why, the Israeli soldier said, “I don’t know, I don’t make the rules.” Next time one of them says that I’ll ask if they vote. It is always easy to play the innocent cog in the machine, not taking responsibility. We’ve heard that before.
I hiked down into Wadi Qelt to St George’s Monastery. I couldn’t start at the beginning, because a settlement has taken over that area and so I can’t drive in, as I was told by a machine gun toting, 17 year old.
It was just as well, it was too far and one should never hike alone, further than yelling distance allows. St. George’s is fairly new, only since the 6th century, whose residents are Greek Orthodox. The wadi parallels the ancient roman Jericho to Jerusalem road from which the Samaritan in Jesus’ parable offered mercy to the half-dead traveller.
I’m staying 2 nights in a French Palestinian Catholic Hostel, northeast of Ramallah. I chatted with the priest, who was grateful to Presbyterians for taking the step of divesting from the Israeli occupation. He believes what is best for Israel, is to speak truth, to prevent them from killing and acting as hostile enemies. He has hope, but believed Israel must be humbled.
I ate another dinner watching the Palestinian tv news feed about Gaza. I had to look away, from body after body after body. Friends, this is a crime against humanity and the world remains virtually silent.