Remember Bethlehem

On Christmas Eve, we celebrate Jesus the baby, born to an ordinary woman, living under an occupying power, homeless at his birth, sought out by a King who wanted to destroy him, a refugee, but destined to change the world, turning the world upside down in pursuit of peace with justice.

We also think of the scene of his birth, Bethlehem. As Prudentius wrote in the fourth century:

“Bethlehem, of noblest cities
None can once with thee compare;
Thou alone the Lord from heaven
Didst for us incarnate bear.”

Though we may sing of ‘O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie’, we must turn our thoughts and our actions to the Bethlehem of today.

Only 10km (six miles) south of Jerusalem, it is governed by the Palestinian Authority but surrounded by Israel’s separation wall, with check-points and numerous West Bank settlements that are deemed illegal under international law.

This evening, three gates will be opened to allow the Christmas procession led by the Latin Patriarch coming from Jerusalem to enter the city.

And in just over one week’s time, the United Nations designated International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian people will begin.

Think of Bethlehem at the time of Jesus’s birth, and think of that noble city today. And do your bit to work for a peaceful and just solution and peace with justice for the Lands of the Bible.