Friday, 24 December 2010
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie
This year I was privileged to visit the Holy Land; it changed my life.
(I blogged my way through the journey, its called "too birds")
I say privileged because its not something that everyone is able to do, for all sorts of reasons - not just financial. Many are denied through ignorance or obstinance or apparent irrelevance.
The sense of privilege was also heightened by new, lasting friendships and the experiences we went through. I'm sure I will return to other places we visited but I want to concentrate on Bethlehem today.
Bethlehem isn't a little town, its a huge city now with one hundred thousand inhabitants. It isn't still either. For me, it crystallised the tension that exists in that land. The wall, so tall, so imposing, so visibly divisive - shook me. The image of the settlements that ring the hill tops that look down on Bethlehem - remains with me.
The generosity and the graciousness of the local people, irrespective of their personal faith and ethnicity was a blessing that I took away with me.
As we celebrate the unfathomable miracle of God, the Word made flesh, in that place - its a stark reminder that God came into the whole messiness of human life. It's as true today as it was two thousand years ago.
If you feel moved to read a Bible passage check out the first fourteen verses of John's gospel...
... and then ask yourself how an uneducated fisherman could write such an amazing piece if his life hadn't been changed too...
May Christmas be a time of joy and peace for you and all you love!