St Philip and St James’s church, Grafton Road, Cheltenham, GL50 2DD

Unlit Christmas Tree Lights – An Act of Solidarity

Following news of sombre public Christmas celebrations in Ramallah, we have decided not to light our Christmas tree lights on Christmas Day.  Fadi Diab, priest at St Andrew’s, Ramallah, responds to this decision:

“We all were deeply moved by the decision you made to not light the Christmas tree during the Christmas service.  We appreciate your act of solidarity with brothers and sisters in Ramallah.

This year all church leaders in Ramallah supported the municipality decision not to light the annual Christmas tree at the centre of Ramallah as a sign of solidarity with the pain of our people. More than ten people from the surrounding refugee camps were killed during the last three months.  Their grieving families, alongside the families of tens of wounded young people, and of tens of arrested young people are neighbours.

The Christmas theme that we chose this year is “Emanuel: God with us.”  That biblical and theological message calls all of us to be with God and with our neighbour.  “God with us” requires from us to be with each others and specially with those suffering and agonizing oppression and marginalization.

Christmas is not a tree or decorating one’s home, church, or town. Christmas is God vesting the form of a human nature to be in solidarity with humanity. Inspired from the radical message of Christmas, we are called “to be with” our neighbours as God calls us through His act of solidarity with humanity.

May the Love of “God with us” fill your hearts and minds; may his light shine upon you as you continue to bring his light to those around you; and may his peace resides in you and your community as you preach his peace to those deprived of peace and security.”

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