My Sermon on the Mount

My Sermon on the Mount

My Sermon on the Mount

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My Sermon on the Mount

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Posted: Nov 09, 2006 |Comments: 0
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My Sermon on the Mount

By: Eileen Fleming

About the Author

Eileen is a retired RN, activist, author, poet, reporter and editor for the WAWA Blog:
She returns to the West Bank in November 2006 and will be reporting on WAWA.

(ArticlesBase SC #71631)

Article Source: – My Sermon on the Mount

On March 20, 2006, I bid goodbye to the sixty ecumenical Christian Internationals I had been traveling throughout the West Bank with to spend two nights on the Mount of Beatitudes in Israel. This awe inspiring site sits above the shimmering Sea of the Galilee where Christ preached the Sermon on the Mount. After the nine day Sabeel Reality Tour in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, I needed to be alone and silent. But, I ended up delivering my own Sermon on the Mount.

Four Franciscan Sisters, one each from Syria, Jordan, Malta and Italy care for the shrine and the pilgrim guests at the Hospice Center where I spent two nights and a day of silent reflection of all I had witnessed the previous nine days.

At dinner a Catholic Pentecostal from Scotland introduced himself and asked me why I was there and what church I was from. I responded I have Irish Roman Catholic, Polish Jew, Russian Orthodox and Episcopal roots but that my rock is The Beatitudes.

He looked even more perplexed when I told him I came to the Mount of Beatitudes to decompress and reflect after nine days in Occupied Territory. I asked him if he were aware of the work of Sabeel, a Palestinian founded organization that promotes a theology of liberation based on justice, peace, non-violence and reconciliation for all, regardless of faith path or nationality.

He sternly admonished me, “God gave this land to the Jews! The Bible never mentions Palestine, and that is that! God gave this land to the Jews and that is that!”

I responded just as fervently that the Palestinian Christians are the descendants of those who first followed Christ and they have been denied inalienable human rights by the Israeli government. I told him the Christians in the Holy Land have shrunk from 20% of the total population to less than 1.3% since 1948 and if things don’t change soon, there will be no Christian witness in the land where Christ promised it is the peacemakers who are the children of God.

He sputtered, “But the Jews have suffered! God gave this land to the Jews and that is that!”

I responded, “Yes, the Holocaust happened because good people did nothing for far too long, and now the oppressed have become the oppressors. In the 21st century good people are unaware, ignoring or are in total denial about the injustice in the Holy Land. And what about all the Hebrew prophets, such as Micah who reminded the Hebrews of what God requires: To be just, to be merciful and to walk humbly with your Lord.”

I could NOT shut up although I knew that Scotsman was trying to get away-he also looked a bit terrified! But, I was on a tear and barely took a breath as I tell him that instead of staying in Israel for his entire visit, he should go and witness life in the occupied territories; to go and see the effects of The Wall on his spirit and see what it has done to the Palestinian economy. I tell him he should go and tour some of the 57 year old refugee camps and see the ruins of all the uncompensated home demolitions. I bring it on home by telling him that I also doubt that God was ever in the real estate business!

His eyes had bugged out and his mouth had dropped open while the torrent of words flowed out of me. When I finally finish delivering my sermon, he stammered, “But there is suffering everywhere!”

I responded swiftly, “Yes there is suffering everywhere and Christ always stood up for the poor and the oppressed. And he told us what ever we do or do not do for the least and the outcast; we do it or do not do it unto God.”

He shook his head and turned and quickly walked away and never looked my way again. Nobody else spoke to me the rest of that evening or the next day. All I kept hearing within was Luke 23:34: “Father forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”

A new Zogby International poll found that 31% of those surveyed in the national poll strongly believe or somewhat believe in the ideas behind Christian Zionism, defined as “the belief that Jews must have all of the promised land, including all of Jerusalem, to facilitate the second coming of the messiah.”

A CNN/Time poll showed that 59% of the American public believes the prophecies contained in the Book of Revelations will come true.

The fastest growing cult in the USA-and perhaps also in Scotland-is the cult of Christian Zionism.

What is Christian Zionism?

Christian Zionism is an extremist Christian fundamentalist movement which supports the claims of those who believe that the State of Israel should take control of all of the land currently disputed between Palestinians and Israelis. It views the creation and expansion of the modern state of Israel as a fulfillment of biblical prophecy toward the second coming of Jesus.

Christian Zionism is a two hundred year old theological and political movement that embraces the most extreme ideological positions of Zionism, thereby becoming detrimental to a just peace within Palestine and Israel. The Christian Zionist program provides a worldview where the Gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism and militarism. In its extreme form, it laces an emphasis on apocalyptic events leading to the end of history rather than living Christ’s love and justice today.

What is the Christian Zionist connection with the Holy Land ?

Believing that God fights on the side of Israel, Christian Zionists call for unqualified support for the most extreme political positions related to the Holy Land. Christian Zionist spokes persons have attributed Hurricane Katrina to God’s wrath over our failure to stop Israel from pulling out of Gaza. They consistently oppose any moves towards a solution to the conflict which would validate the political aspirations of both Palestinians and Israelis.

Who Supports Christian Zionism?

Christian Zionism has significant support within American Protestant fundamentalists, who number between 10 and 20 million. Its reach is broad, by virtue of its favorite themes related to the “End Times” and an Israel-fixated Christian media.
Christian Zionism is both a “movement” and a way of interpreting current events. Its focus is on Israel and the Middle East, as much an ideology as a “movement.” Its promoters share many beliefs but are not organized through any one institution.

Throughout history Christians have at times twisted scripture to justify violence: for the Crusades, for Anti-Semitism, and for slavery. Too often the church has been slow to respond to these biblical distortions with disastrous results.

Although the Christian Zionists motives are couched in terms of compassion toward the Jewish people based on a literal reading of scripture the political agenda of territorial expansion advocated by Christian Zionists has given rise to injustice against Palestinians and added fuel to the fire of conflict in the Middle East.

The GOOD NEWS is that some mainstream churches have spoken out against this inherently anti-Semitic theology. What follows are but a few words from some of those who have.

Presbyterian Church USA, in July 2004 during the National General Assembly meeting stated: “Christian Zionism promotes a theology that justifies grievous violations of basic rights of people who are also made