Bethlehem today

As we come to celebrate the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, it is hard to avoid the current situation in the holy land. The news from Gaza is heart-breaking to see and although not widely reported, life for Palestinians in the West Bank is currently very difficult with a lot of unrest and violence too. The ‘little town of Bethlehem’ lies within the West Bank and – usually busy and bustling at this time of year – Christmas looks very different for the people of Bethlehem this year. Christians in the community are not celebrating Christmas this year in the same way: there are no lights and joyous celebrations, and there are very few people. In the last month access into and out of the holy town has been restricted so that hardly anyone can get in or out. The image above has made the headlines in recent weeks – it is the nativity scene put together by the Lutheran church inside Bethlehem. It depicts the baby Jesus hidden amongst the rubble, being searched for by the wise men, the shepherds and the holy family. It is a reminder of the many photos we have seen from Gaza where tragically it is children who have the highest death toll.  Life is very hard in the holy land at this time, it is very dark. It is at this time that we need the hope of the Christ-child who comes into the darkness of the world and brings light. Jesus stands in solidarity with those who suffer, those who struggle in the darkness, and He offers the light of hope and peace. ‘The light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it’ (John 1:5).

 

Hannah Higginson

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