A letter from…Bethlehem
Johnny Shahwan reports from Bethlehem
Two thousand years ago, the night sky over Bethlehem lit up as an angel announced to startled shepherds that their Saviour had been born. Today, the streets of Bethlehem are still lit up throughout Christmas, though mostly by lights of the colourful, twinkling sort. From the shops in the Christian quarter, carols ring out all day in a variety of languages. The narrow streets of our little town are packed with cars and people. Here and there bells tinkle while Santas hand out sweets to passers-by. Tour buses make their way through heavy traffic to the Church of the Nativity. Local families bundle their kids into the car to take a turn across town, marvel at the Christmas display and meet Santa. Car horns blare from every corner. People lean out of their cars shouting: “Merry Christmas!” The town bustles with life. Everyone seems to be off to Bethlehem at this time of year.
People here are grateful that, after so much political unrest, peace and stability have returned to our town, bringing visitors from around the globe – especially at Christmas. Many new hotels and restaurants have opened, and we are doing better economically. In effect, we benefit from the fact that Jesus was born in our town.
However, only a few here know that the Son of God who came into this world also wants to come into people’s hearts and enrich their lives. Only a small minority of “Christians” seem to know what they celebrate: The incarnation of God…
This is an extract from the December 2013/January 2014 edition of Reform.