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    Morning over the bay

    A Christmas Prayer for the Middle East

    By Alex Awad

    December 25, 2013

    Rev. Alex Elias Awad is a missionary with the Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church serving in Israel/Palestine with his wife, Brenda. He pastors an international church in East Jerusalem, teaches at Bethlehem Bible College, and serves as director of the Shepherd Society, the humanitarian arm of Bethlehem Bible College, which provides food and medicine for needy Palestinians. Rev. Awad was born and raised in Jerusalem. After high school, he studied in Europe and the USA. He is the author of Through the Eyes of the Victims and Palestinian Memories, and has written numerous articles calling for justice for both Palestinians and Israelis.

    O come, O come, Emmanuel, this Christmas to the world around us because we have messed it up something awful. Syria is burning with the fires of a civil war. Millions have become refugees, thousands lost their lives, and so many children are caught in the midst of this bloody conflict.

    O come, O come Emmanuel to Egypt, where millions are traumatized by one revolution after the next.

    O come, O come Emmanuel to rescue men, women, and children in Iraq who are dying via daily acts of terror.

    O come, O come Emmanuel to Lebanon, which is threatened with religious and sectarian strife that has already snuffed out the lives of hundreds in the last few months and threatens to destabilize the entire nation.

    O come, O come Emmanuel to the streets of Libya that are stained with the blood of rebel forces that fight each other and their government.

    O come, O come Emmanuel to Palestine, the land that witnessed your birth and was honored with the hope and excitement of your first coming. Have mercy on the masses that endure the yoke of a chronic military occupation.

    O come, O come Emmanuel to the 1.7 million humans who are trapped in the big jail called the Gaza Strip. Have mercy on both the trapped population as well as on the jailers.

    O come, O come Emmanuel, lead our Israeli neighbors toward peace and reconciliation. Bless the efforts of courageous Israeli peace and justice groups and individuals in their efforts to influence their politicians and religious leaders.

    O come, O come Emmanuel this Christmas, and forgive us Lord for creating such a mess in the Middle East and North Africa.

    O come, O come Child of Bethlehem, Prince of Peace and King of Kings, and save us from our evil intentions, calm our spirits, help us to forgive and to coexist. Come, Child of Bethlehem, we need you to save us both in flesh and in spirit. Come this Christmas and be our peace and our salvation.

    Iraqi refugee children, Damascus, Syria Iraqi refugee children, Damascus, Syria