a song i recorded with jon birch as jonnys in the basement back in '98 after a trip to jerusalem and gaza - it's been in my head this last few days in the depressing unfolding scenario in the land called holy
absolutely amazing evening last night at bethlehem unwrapped. spoken word is such a powerful format. harry was of course on great form but given the context it was rafeef ziadah who headlined and made an incredible impact. she concluded with this poem - we teach life sir.
thinking about it i did read a post by ben edson that was almost exactly the sentiment i had in 1998 when i visited tekoa, the birthplace of the prophet amos. this tells the story of journeying down from tekoa that day and how poignant some of his words were. it's from the album backbone available on proost but here's this track free if you're interested - download justice (mp3)
i have visited bethlehem once in 19998. the trip i went on was amazing - hard but really good. i went with the amos trust, a small charity who punch beyond their weight standing in solidarity with the oppressed and campaigning for justice. because they are small they invest time in particular areas and relationships. palestine and israel has been one of those areas. anyway all this by way of saying amos trust are organising a trip the gospel under occupation in may next year. kester brewin and chris rose will lead the trip. and here's some info
The trip is from 22nd to 30th May.
It's just over £1000 all in from the UK, or £500 from the US/elsewhere if you book your own way to Tel Aviv.
As you know, it's an amazing opportunity for anyone of faith to 'walk where Jesus walked', as well as see some great Banksy's ;-)
Plus, on this trip in particular, we are wanting to focus on the leadership needs in the area. That could be theological leadership - getting some new thinking on the situation - or social/entrepreneurial leadership to help build capacity in the Palestinian economy.
It will be very exciting / eye opening... great opportunities to meet the 'living stones', and peace-makers from all sides right at the heart of so many world events.
i realise i never said anything about the last grace which focused on bethlehem. it included a 26 foot screen to show the actual height of the now walled city of bethlehem. and there were various segments of an amos trust video that were shown and a set of stations for prayer. one included standing in solidarity offering messages of hope to residents of the
hamlets of humsa and hadidya, in the
occupied palestinian territories. more
details are on the Amnesty website. and dean has added a set of photos here...
saturday was the first grace of the year concluding our reflections on hospitality. the centre piece was a nativity with the separation wall in the middle which you can get through amos. cathy ross shared some thoughts, and then we used the story of the visit of the magi and stations of gold, frankincense and myrrh. it was the largest crowd we have had for some time with numbers bolstered by 25 visitors from calvin college.
in february 1998 i visited palestine/israel. what i saw and heard shocked me and when i returned i recorded an angry sad album backbone telling the stories of those encounters. backbone is still one of the albums i am most proud of (and has sold the least copies!!!!).
anyway adam cleaveland sent me a link to a video he made using the track 'home' which he has put on youtube here with photos and video footage from his visit in 2005.
the track is sung in two halves. the first is sung by me as a zionist jew returning to the promised land, seeing the palestinians as the equivalemnt to the canaanites to be driven out in the name of god. the second half is sung by jon as muhanna arab, a palestinian i met who had seen his house and land destroyed and then lived in a beaten up caravan which was regularly stoned by the settlers. he also sings of ibrahim who we met - i have a stone from his house that had been bulldozed by israeli soldiers after spending 5 years building it. he asked us to take a stone to remember and tell the story. the chorus is 'there's no place like home'.
sadly it seems very little has changed in nearly 10 years. this video brought it all back to me...
it's hard to know what to say about the situation in the middle east... i have just been having coffee with a friend abby who has got back from a cms encounter trip. you can read a few reflections on their blog. but it just reminded me how angry, sad and confused i felt when i returned from a visit in 98. i ended up recording the album backbone as a way of getting what was inside out... but it doesn't sound as if the situation is any more hopeful which is depressing.
i felt so angry hearing the news this morning as an israeli mp was talking about the 'arab terrorists' - the day after their government was involved in killing so many innocent people in qana - i wonder what definition of terrorist is being worked with here?! taking a look in the mirror might be a good start...
one of the things that wasn't there when i visited was the apartheid wall (i choose the term deliberately). abby told me how rachel's tomb in bethlehem now has this corridor so that if you are travelling to visit from israel you can do so without having to cross into the palestinian territories or see a palestinian. photos are on their flickr album. this one is the corridor, this one looking at it from the palestinian side. and this one seems the saddest - a last chink in the wall that will no doubt be finished soon closing off the palestinians. rachel still weeps for her children it seems...
i followed a link and got a painful reminder that tragedy and house demolitions are still going on with this moving first hand account. earlier today i had read in the guardian about how jewish settlers who are being moved on from gaza have had 4 bedroom houses with two bathrooms and air conditioning built for them to move into by the beach. somehow i doubt that anything has been built for the palestinians...
i have been blogging for twenty years in fairly eclectic fashion. i am an advocate for pioneers, lover of all things creative, an explorer of faith in relation to contemporary culture, a photographer and writer. explore the presences section below to find me in other spaces