Bethlehem Nativity: Christ Under the Rubble

Last week, the city and church leaders in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, made the decision to cancel all Christmas festivities this year. This was to mourn the Palestinians killed in Gaza – over 20,000 men, women and children.

At a service for Gaza held at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethlehem, the day before Christmas, Reverend Munther Isaac, Lutheran Pastor in Bethlehem and a Palestinian Christian theologian, delivered his Christmas Sermon, Christ Under the Rubble.

The nativity scene displayed in the church depicted the figure of baby Jesus in a keffiyeh, surrounded by rubble.

“If Jesus were to be born today, he would be born under the rubble in Gaza,” preached Isaac, who condemned using theology to justify Israel’s killing of innocent civilians.

“If we, as Christians, are not outraged by the genocide, by the weaponization of the Bible to justify it, there is something wrong with our Christian witness, and we are compromising the credibility of our gospel message.”

Christmas Sermon: Christ Under the Rubble

Later, in an interview with Democracy Now!, Rev. Isaac explained the reasons for the nativity display and the theme of his sermon.

I felt the need to deliver such a message with very direct and very clear language. This is not the time for soft diplomacy specially with the genocide still happening day after day after day….

It’s not that it is going to stop what is happening in Gaza. I wish we could …. but I hoped that people will feel the weight of responsibility that they have and I’m not just talking about Western governments but many churches. They have enabled what is happening right now in Gaza, and I felt we need to send this message.

Genocide in the Birthplace of Jesus


These videos were posted yesterday as comments in the Open Thread. The one on the sermon is here and the Democracy Now! interview posted by mh is here.


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6 Responses to Bethlehem Nativity: Christ Under the Rubble

  1. mh says:

    This is the full service

    Dec 23 Christ in the Rubble – A Liturgy of Lament – Christmas Lutheran Church, Bethlehem


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  2. kaysee kaysee says:

    We have posted a number of links (articles, videos) with info on that forgotten section of the people caught up in the Gaza conflict – the Palestinian Christians.

    Those who are following the blog will have seen the comments in the Open Threads as well as the Posts on the blog, including this one.

    A few days ago, I also posted 8 comments on this subject in the Open Thread.

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  3. kaysee kaysee says:

    December 20, 2023

    A Christmas wish for peace:
    H.B. Card. Pierbattista visit to Gaza has been cancelled

    The protracted bitter war has disrupted this traditional pastoral visit from taking place this Christmas of 2023. And all the Christians of the Holy Land have refrained from holding any celebrations, as a sign of solidarity and compassion with the people of Gaza.

    Christmas Memories from Gaza
    Memories from the Pastoral visit of his beatitude to Gaza 2022, and Gaza Now in 2023.

  4. kaysee kaysee says:

    December 24, 2023

    Homily for the Midnight Mass – Christmas 2023
    Pierbattista Card. Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

    My thoughts go to Gaza and its two million inhabitants. Truly the words “there was no room for them” describe their situation, which is now known to all. Their suffering ceaselessly cries out to the whole world. No place or home is safe for anyone. Thousands of people have been deprived of their basic needs; they are hungry, and they are even more exposed to incomprehensible violence. There seems to be no place for them, not only physically, but also in the minds of those who decide the fate of nations…..

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  5. kaysee kaysee says:

    December 24, 2023

    Midnight Mass in Bethlehem:
    Patriarch Addresses Gazan Christians, Calls for End to War

    The patriarch’s words directly addressed to the Christians of Gaza:

    “I used to spend some days with you before Christmas every year. Only God knows how many attempts we tried to be there this year. We are ready to do whatever we can for you. All our lives are at your service. You’re not alone. We’ll never abandon you. You are experiencing fear, death and tragedies, but you’re a light in this moment, for your courageous presence there. From Bethlehem, we are hugging you. May you feel the warmth of our closeness and affection as much as possible.”

    Cardinal Pizzaballa also called for a definitive solution for Gaza.

    “It is not enough to talk about a cease-fire; we don’t want a cease-fire; we want the hostilities to end,” he said. “We have to stop this nonsense.”
    He also said of the Gazan people: “Though living on their own land, they continually hear ‘there is no place for them.’ For decades they have been waiting for the international community to find solutions to end the occupation under which they are forced to live and its consequences.”


    The patriarch spoke in his homily of the need to make a place for all people.

    “It seems for us today that there is no room for Christmas,” Cardinal Pizzaballa said in his homily. “The noise of weapons, the children’s tears, the suffering of the refugees, the cry of the poor, the grief of so many mourning families, seem to make our songs lose harmony.”
    But it is in the darkness of this world that the Church proclaims Christmas anew, he said.
    “Every night, God always finds room for his Christmas. Even for us, here, today: God can make room even in the hardest of hearts,” Cardinal Pizzaballa said…


    The church was filled with local Christians taking the place this year of pilgrims who can’t be in Bethlehem at this time because of the Israel-Hamas war.
    “Thank you for being here,” the patriarch said to the faithful in attendance.

  6. mh says:

    Hi KC,

    This is a ‘left wing activist’ that is a popular YouTuber.
    I’ve never watched more than a couple of minutes of him as he is not my cup or tea.
    But posting this to show the Palestinian Christian story is getting out there.

    Palestinian Christian Exposes Israeli Lies And Atrocities

    Owen Jones
    394K subscribers

    144,411 views 24 Dec 2023
    Hammam Farah is a Palestinian Christian based in Toronto – and right now, he faces unimaginable horrors. His family are sheltering in the besieged Holy Church in Gaza – and his relatives have been brutally killed by Israel’s onslaught. Here he exposes an outrageous Israeli lie – and gives a harrowing testimony about the fate of Gaza’s Christians, and Palestinians in general.

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