Peace In Bethlehem

We live in a noisy turbulent world filled with hate and the love of war.

What is Christmas, but the reminder that such days are numbered.

Because of still-seething tensions we came into Bethlehem, a city under siege, by the back door. After parking our buses we made our way through the crowded noisy streets toward the Church of the Nativity. As we passed into its precincts we were startled at the numbers of people who had come to see and worship. We stood in what seemed an interminable line. Some became impatient and crowded ahead to get into the grotto that tradition holds is where the baby Jesus was born. Finally our turn came to step down into the cave. The caretakers stood on all sides and herded us through like errant cattle. There was no moment to stop and feel before we were pushed out the other side—some attempting to snap pictures over the shoulders as they went.

Then we entered a beautiful chapel where we were told we could sit and contemplate the story of Christmas. We filed in and sat down reverently and expectantly, but no sooner had we got settled than we were ordered out of the building, and once again, herded to the exits like sheep.

We gathered in the courtyard and removed ourselves off to one side under the shelter of a portico. There I spoke to them and shared the story of Christmas. Then, I asked them to sing. For some it was at first difficult, having been offended by what had happened inside, but then a wonderful thing happened. It was like magic.

The Spirit of the Lord came upon them and they sang like angels with volume and power such that passersby stopped to watch, and some to join in. The tears flowed down our cheeks as we sang the sacred songs of Christmas. For the moment we all felt it, and at last, in this troubled world—we had found peace.

Merry Christmas!

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