[WATCH] Bethlehem reverend accuses West of complicity in ‘Christ in the Rubble’ sermon

Bethlehem reverend delivers ‘Christ in the Rubble’ Christmas sermon amid Gaza conflict

“If Jesus were to be born today, he would be born under the rubble in Gaza,” Isaac said in his address during the “Christ in the Rubble: A Liturgy of Lament” service on Dec. 23 in the West Bank.

Isaac, a Palestinian Christian theologian, told the congregation that the Christmas message “is not about Santa, trees, gifts, lights... My goodness, how we twisted the meaning of Christmas. How we have commercialized Christmas.”

Instead, he said, the Christmas message is that Jesus, who miraculously survived a massacre, was “born among the occupied and marginalised. He is in solidarity with us in our pain and brokenness.”

The reverend called out the Western world, which he views as complicit in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza that has displaced two million people and killed 20,000—actions he called “a genocide.”

“Let it be clear: Silence is complicity, and empty calls for peace without a ceasefire and end to occupation, and the shallow words of empathy without direct action—are all under the banner of complicity,” he said.

The true Christmas message, he argued, is that “this genocide must stop now.”

Citing a frequent response that Israel is acting in self-defence in Gaza, Isaac in his message asked “how is the killing of 9,000 children self-defence?”

“We are angry. We are broken. This should have been a time of joy; instead, we are mourning. We are fearful,” he began his message. “Gaza as we know it no longer exists,” he continued, adding that Palestinians in the West Bank were now also asking “could this be our fate in Bethlehem?”

Isaac acknowledged with gratitude a global group of Christian leaders, led by a South African delegation, who came to mourn in solidarity at the service, which was live-streamed by the American Red Letter Christians group, but called out the broader Western world for its silence.

He also called out the “theology of Empire” from the Western church that he said “becomes a powerful tool to mask oppression under the cloak of divine sanction. It divides people into “us” and “them."

Isaac claimed the war has proven that the “Western world does not see us as equal,” adding that the “hypocrisy and racism of the Western world is transparent and appalling.” He said he never wanted to get a lecture on human rights from the West again, because he said it appeared as though those laws didn’t apply to non-white Palestinians.

To those who are not appalled by what is happening, Isaac said “there is something wrong with your humanity” adding that “Gaza today has become the moral compass of the world.”

In reference to the name and theme of his Christmas sermon, Isaac said that the “Christ in the rubble” manger is about “resilience,” exemplified in Jesus’ meekness, weakness and vulnerability. “Resilience because this very same child, rose up from the midst of pain, destruction, darkness and death to challenge Empires, to speak truth to power and deliver an everlasting victory over death and darkness.”