Grace, a young teacher from the Bethlehem Bible College, shared about her work in the Oct 8 Weekly Prayer Alert. In a recent blog, she shares about Christmas in Bethlehem:
As a child, every December, I loved singing Christmas carols with my family. This was always a highlight of the Christmas season; of course, alongside my mom’s delicious homemade Christmas cookies. I’ve grown up now, and I still love singing Christmas carols, and eating the cookies! Especially in the town where it all happened.
Needless to say, Bethlehem is always a joyous place, in particular, around Christmas time; it is very glamorous and attractive. During this season, the little town is hustling and bustling with life, energy, decorations, Santa Clauses and much more. But beyond these festive preparations, where is Jesus? Where is Jesus in our lives, hearts, our college, in our ‘oh little town of Bethlehem’? As a Christian community, where is Jesus in our thoughts, in our words, in our actions? I posed these questions to my students during our final week of lectures. I thought it would give them something to think about, while looking at the busyness of this town during this time of year.
As I write these lines, the words of an old Arabic Christmas Carol are echoing into my ears, one that I have sung and loved over the years, “When I give my friend a lovingly kiss with no deceit, when the Spirit of vengeance dies in me, when my heart is no longer cold, when my soul melts in the presence of God, then and only then I am in the Spirit of Christmas…” The chorus of the Carol continues to say: “On Christmas Eve: hatred is banished, earth blossoms, war is buried and love grows.”
As Christmas is celebrated all around the globe this year, may we remember to say a small prayer for the people living in the little town of Bethlehem; that God would move strongly and mightily among the minority of Christians who are still here, who are waiting for hatred to be banished, for earth to blossom, for war to be buried and most importantly for love to grow. After all, Bethlehem does not always look like a romantic fairy tale, a cute little city; reality can be a very different, a place where people have to sleep with the sound of bullets, and where life can be restricted in many challenging ways. But yet we have a greater hope in our Savior who was born just within a five-minute walking distance from my home, and even better, who was born to fill any emptiness in my life and yours, to give us eternal joy and peace!
Father, the day Jesus was born, the day He arrived on earth as both God and man, is pictured in our minds as a peaceful time of great joy. But in the heavens, a battle was being waged, and that battle continues today. Thank You that Jesus lived a perfect life, and that he took on the enormity of all our sin that we might love You and serve Your church. Thank You that He rose again, victorious over sin and death, and that in Him we have the hope of glory set before us. We pray for the Christians of Bethlehem, giving thanks for their faithfulness in the midst of hardship and praying for Your protection and peace to fill them that they might be bold witnesses. And along with Grace, we pray that God would move “strongly and mightily among the minority of Christians who are still here, who are waiting for hatred to be banished, for earth to blossom, for war to be buried, and … for love to grow.” In the name of Jesus through whom we have “eternal joy and peace,” Amen.