Let the Carols Continue in Bethlehem
" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' " Matthew 2:6
Bethlehem did not only give the world the incarnate Son of God, Emanuel, the Prince of Peace and Savior of the world, but also the first Christmas carols. The shepherds in the fields of Bethlehem heard the choirs of angels sing in the sky above them, “Glory to God in heaven and peace on earth…” Since then, throughout the world the faithful have been celebrating this great and divine visitation with carols, songs and hymns of praise.
Will the carols of Christmas continue to be sung in the churches, homes and streets of Bethlehem? This obviously depends on whether the faithful continue to live in Bethlehem. If political and economic factors continue to force the faithful to migrate out of Bethlehem, the carols of Christmas will disappear with them. Bethlehem the very place of the birth of Christ can soon become a city without a song, not even a carol on Christmas Eve.
Only peace could keep the faithful from deserting their city and hence keep the carol going. Christians around the world must do their utmost to seek peace for Bethlehem and her surroundings.
Yet, it would be impossible to have peace in Bethlehem without solving the bigger issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. If not for the sake of Israel or for the sake of Palestine, for Bethlehem’s sake, let us double our efforts to bring an end to this quarrel that has caused so much turmoil and bloodshed in the last one hundred years. Let us end the conflict before the conflict brings an end to the carol, hushes the song and quiets the hymn. The silence of the Christmas Carol in Bethlehem will signal the defeat of Christianity in the birth place of the Christian faith. God forbid!
Where to begin? Start by learning more about what is going on today in Bethlehem. It is easy for the diligent to google the truth and it is cheaper than making a trip to Bethlehem. But if you wish to visit Bethlehem, you will be most welcome.
The next step is to say a prayer and intercede on behalf of all those who are affected by the conflict, but especially pray for the survival of the Christian community in Bethlehem. Pray for those who in spite of all the oppression and evil around them continue to sing the carols.
Then act in faith and advocate by:
Writing a letter to your local newspaper
Send an email message to your members of Congress
Teach a class and educate the people in your church and community
Find out what other peacemakers are doing and support their efforts
As millions worldwide have done for ages past, this Christmas and all through the year, “Come to Bethlehem” in spirit and in song. It is the hope of the contemporary faithful in Bethlehem that the challenges faced by the city, will occupy the hearts and minds of true seekers until the bells toll louder and the Christmas carols of old resound with renewed fervor and passion. Let the carols go on in Bethlehem.
From Bethlehem, We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Alex & Brenda Awad
For more information and ideas, visit: www.openbethlehem.org.
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