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Essay

My Neighbourhood

By March 21, 2013 No Comments
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Home is that place that nurtures and sustains you, where you are with your kindred, where you find rest and comfort, are safe and supported. It is as Merriam-Webster defines a “congenial environment.” Or it ought to be. Looking back over the various blog postings I’ve made here at the Twelve, I find myself often returning to this theme of home. And not just here. Why, just the other day in a sermon I referenced—rather embarrassingly—the late ‘90’s teen-pop TV show Dawson’s Creek to get to a Randy Newman song sung by Chantal Kreviazuk, Feels Like Home. (Take a listen! And as to the Dawson aspect, the song was apparently on the Creek’s soundtrack, not that I associate with or really know anything about that…) Sometimes in regards to culture (even pop culture), often ecological, and usually of the personal, I dwell a lot upon “home” as place, relationship, and even way of entering into a deeper experience of the holy. Perhaps it’s influenced by my evangelical roots and the picture of Jesus knocking on the door. But mostly it’s because of verse 14 from the Prologue of the Gospel of John, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.” Lived among up perhaps better stated more colloquially, “pitched his tent.” I wonder at the immensity and the subtle reality of God making God’s dwelling among us not only in the person of Jesus Christ but in the Holy Spirit too.

It is with that mindset, with thoughts of home permeating my heart that I wish to use this space to commend to you a new short film of only 26 minutes called My Neighbourhood. For a limitted time, you can watch the entire film online at the Guardian. My Neighbourhood concentrates on a child as he is becoming a teen, eleven years old Mohammed El Kurd, a Palestinian who lives in the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. He and his family and many neighbors are forced to give up their homes as Israeli settlers move into them. In a very short amount of time, the viewer is able to see how resentment and hate develops, fosters, and grows. Animosity and enmity is not where this story ends, however. We also meet Zvi and Sara Benninga, Jewish Israelis residing in West Jerusalem who develop a relationship with Mohammed and join in regular protest to save the neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah.

Three years ago a group of about twelve delegates from the Christian Reformed Church and the Reformed Church in America joined a Christian Peacemaker Team group for two weeks in the West Bank of Palestine. We went to Sheikh Jarrah, participated in the protest, and actually met some of Mohammed’s family who were camped out in front of their home that has been taken over by settlers. It was a profound and personalizing experience of an issue far too ignored or generalized in the US media.

This week as President Obama is visiting Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank and much of the media’s coverage will be given over to rhetoric and ruhmors of wars with Iran, I urge you to remember Mohammed and Zvi and Sara and the countless others—Israeli, Palestinian, and international—who are working towards a just peace in Palestine and Israel, who are reminding and showing the world what is happening, who are peacefully but courageously protesting the injustice of horrors of the occupation. Please join me in prayer that all might find a true home with peace and security.

The Guardian currently is showing the film, My Neighbourhood online, but this is for a limited time. To find out more about the film, go to http://www.justvision.org/myneighbourhood.

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