Our Saviour’s Lutheran congregation, at Knox in Melbourne’s east, has a new pottery communion set from Bethlehem. It is symbolic that, when we use it, we share in the body and blood of Christ, who was born in that part of the world where there is still so much human brokenness, but also much human effort to bring peace between people living there today.
By buying this set, we are supporting the Lutheran Church of the Holy Land. Since the opening of our House of the Church, Knox, in 1984 (see pages 10-11), Our Saviour’s has used pottery vessels, as we felt clay was a natural material in line with our homely architecture and decor. Having discovered that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America was using a set made in Bethlehem, I contacted the International Center of Bethlehem, a ministry of Christmas Lutheran Church, where Dr Mitri Raheb is pastor.
Christmas Lutheran Church is a congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land, whose bishop is Dr Munib Younan. In 2005 Bishop Younan was involved in the establishment of the Council of Religious Institutions in Israel for Interfaith dialogue – bringing together Jews, Christians and Muslims in support of justice and peace between Israel and Palestine.
Together with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land and Israeli journalist Gideon Levy, Dr Raheb was awarded the Olof Palme Prize for courageous work for peace in the area (see The Lutheran, February 2016).
The programs of the International Center of Bethlehem, which includes the Cave Arts and Crafts Center, serve the whole community.
Our communion set was crafted by Inam, one of the female artisans learning to produce pottery at the centre. It is inscribed with the Arabic for ‘This is my body, this is my blood’ and features olive branches and the cross as symbols of peace. We consecrated the communion set on 13 September 2015 at our annual Creation Sunday service and were reminded of the great need for prayer and compassionate action for those suffering around the world, including in the Middle East.
Junette Schoell is a member and pastoral assistant at Our Saviour’s, Knox, in Victoria.
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