Have you ever wondered why the Christian year begins with Advent and the return of Jesus rather than with Christmas and the birth of Jesus? It sounds back to front. And yet from an eternal perspective, the most important event in the future will be the return of Jesus.
It is ironic that much of our time is given to looking back re-living the history of God’s redemptive plan from Genesis when actually the emphasis in the New Testament is upon the future and the necessity of being ready for Christ’s return. The return of Jesus is good news especially for all suffering injustice, persecution, marginalisation today. None more so for the people of Palestine and Gaza, in particular, who are facing genocide and ethnic cleansing this Christmas. While Western churches will celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Church in Palestine has cancelled their Christmas services and will instead be praying for his return to bring justice and peace. They long for the vision found in Revelation 21 of God coming to his people and wiping away every tear from their eyes. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.” (Revelation 21:4-5).
How ironic that Christ was born under brutal settler colonial military occupation, which ruthlessly crushed any dissent. So much so Joseph and Mary had to flee to Egypt as refugees to save his life. They very likely will have gone via Rafah in Gaza. The Christmas celebrations and messages this year will therefore expose how vast the chasm is between the authentic and counterfeit. It is timely then that we consider the opening verses of Mark’s Gospel today for the summarise who Jesus is and why he came.
On 28 August 1963 Martin Luther King, co-led a civil-rights march of 250,000 people in Washington DC against racism and segregation. In what has become probably the most well-known and widely quoted speech in history, King shared his dream of a diverse but united multi-ethnic nation:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by their character. When we let freedom ring, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old spiritual, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”
The origins of institutional racism can be traced back to the European colonization of the Americas and Africa and to the slave trade. With the abolition of slavery, institutional racism evolved into American segregation, German Antisemitism and South African Apartheid.
May I begin by thanking Professor Datuk Azizian Baharuddin, the director of Universiti Malaya Centre for Civilisational Dialogue(UMCCD), for the kind invitation to give this lecture. I also wish to thank Norma Hashim and Professor Dr Mohd Nazari Ismail of the Hashim Sani Centre for Palestine Studies for co-hosting this lecture and also for sponsoring my visit.
Over thirty years ago I gave an annual lecture to 16–17-year-old students at Guildford Grammar School, on virtually the same subject as we are considering today. I began by warning the students that there would be homework to motivate them to pay attention. And I say the same to you today – there will be homework.
The title I have been given is “Inevitable Solutions to the Palestinian Plight”. Note the first two words – ‘Inevitable” and “Solutions” because there are many solutions to the Palestinian plight. I will major on three today. These three are in fact mutually exclusive. How then can they be inevitable? That in part depends on you, me and seven billion other people in the world. Let me illustrate. Climate change is inevitable, it is happening, but the solutions (and there are several) depend on us and how seriously we adjust our values, our priorities and life styles. So it is with resolving the Palestinian plight.
You may download a pdf version of this lecture here.
Fifty years ago this month, I began to have a sense of God’s call on my life. A few years later, I was humbled to be accepted for training for the Anglican ministry. But there was just one problem. I was terrified at the thought of having to take funerals. But the Lord was gracious. He removed my fears while at theological college in Bristol. Three months after our first daughter was born, my wife Joanna’s father died suddenly. Then, just a month later, my own father died suddenly. At the age of 29 I became the oldest man in either family. In one month, I gained all the personal experience I needed to be able to empathise with others. And a verse from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians took on special significance.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
Africa has a long history of racism and colonialism, so it’s quite surprising to find many Africans who support Zionism – despite its racist roots. We dug into the root cause of this phenomenon by talking to an Anglican minister who is no stranger to the subject: Stephen Sizer. He is the author of “Christian Zionism: Road-map to Armageddon?” He explains how foreign funding forces African churches to align their doctrines with Christian Zionist benefactors in the United States. Sizer also calls for a return to the authentic faith initiated by Jesus-that of peacemakers, not widowmakers. A faith that embraces all regardless of race, tribe, social status, or other criteria.
African Stream is a pan-African digital media organization based exclusively on social-media platforms, focused on giving a voice to all Africans both at home and abroad through cutting-edge, African-centered content. African Stream currently has around 300k subscribers.
The meaning of the Parable of the Good Samaritan explained. A short clip from the film With God on our Side produced by Porter Speakman and shared by permission. This is my shortest and most popular sermon.
With God On Our Side takes a look at the theology of Christian Zionism, which teaches that because the Jews are God’s chosen people, they have a divine right to the land of Israel. Aspects of this belief system lead some Christians in the West to give uncritical support to Israeli government policies, even those that privilege Jews at the expense of Palestinians, leading to great suffering among Muslim and Christian Palestinians alike and threatening Israel’s security as a whole. Is there a Biblical alternative for Christians who want to love and support the people of Israel? A way that doesn’t favor one people group over another but instead promotes peace and reconciliation for both Jews and Palestinians?
The term “genocide” was formulated by the Jewish-Polish lawyer Raphael Lemkin against the backdrop of the Holocaust. It was codified as a crime under international law in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the Genocide Convention). The definition of genocide, as set out in Article 2 of the Convention, is simple and straightforward, its first three elements clearly reflecting Israeli policies and actions towards the Palestinian people since initiating its process of systematic genocide in 1947:
Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
This week I recorded an interview with Faisal Mohammad for Turkish TRT entitled ‘Israel’s Strategic Weapon: America’s Christian Zionists’. It has apparently gone viral with over 300k+ viewings in jless than a week. The programme explores why Netanyahu cited the Hebrew scriptures to justify his genocide in Gaza. You can view the programme on the following channels: