Newsletter: Vol. 14, Iss. 3
December 2015

Christmas in Bethlehem
Ms. Karen Thornton

One of Bethlehem’s biggest days of the year – for Christians, it is the cradle of Christianity. When Pope Francis visited in 2014, he stated: “Do not be afraid or ashamed of your faith. Faith comes at a time when Christianity is under threat in the Middle East like never before”.

We could talk about how the Islamic State has pushed some of the world’s oldest Christian communities out of their home in northern Iraq. The choice was convert to Islam, or die. Manger Square next to the Church of the Nativity is celebrated as the birthplace of Jesus. But right now this area (West Bank) is separated by a wall separating Bethlehem from Jerusalem. Israel claims it is necessary to prevent attacks by militants. Where does justice come from and how will this be solved? We pray. Pope Francis stated: “I hope next year (2015) there will be no separation wall and I hope we will have bridges of peace instead”. We pray.

The Minister of Tourism stated “Our message this Christmas (2014) is a message of peace like every year, but what we added this year is; all we want from Christmas is justice. Justice for our people, our case and the right to live like other people in the world in our independent state without occupation”. In 2014 there were over 20,000 families displaced by the conflict between Israel and Palestine, and it goes on. This conflict is not just in Israel. Christians all over the world are being displaced by the challenge to convert to Islam or die.

I pray you know whom you believe in and you are faithful to that commitment. The song “I Know Whom I Have Believed”. Not necessarily a Christmas hymn or song you will hear playing during the holiday season, but that is Christmas. “How believing in His Word wrought peace within my heart; Revealing Jesus through the Word, But I know whom I have believed, which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” If you don’t know, it isn’t too late.

During our time in Jerusalem that thought would resonate in my spirit, I know whom I believe in. It isn’t man. When you are in His Word, you are in the presence of God and you want to hear what He is saying to you through His Word. Revelation 2:11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Think about it.

God did not create us or call us into a God given purposeful life for failure, poor in health, spirit or to just be poor. He has promised us an abundant life. Sure, life can be challenging. Sometimes Christmas brings out the most challenging of times. Conflict, don’t let it happen at home, don’t let it get out of control, don’t let it displace you. He hears. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, your country, your family, your home. Let this Christmas be one of peace.

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