Christmas Day 2011

183 Peace, Love, Justice, Hope & Joy

"Do not be afraid, for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people." – Luke 2:10

Finding Joy in Bethlehem

Two years ago I concluded a three-month trip to the West Bank by spending Christmas in Bethlehem.  It was the first time I had been away from my family on Christmas and I anticipated a sad, lonely holiday.  Instead, it was one of the most joyful events of my life.  In Bethlehem, Christmas is a joyful time for people of all faiths who find themselves in the city.  Despite daily hardships, people string Christmas lights all over the city making the normally dark streets glow.  A stage is set up in Nativity Square with children from all over the world coming together to sing Christmas carols.  Normally sleepy gift shops are bustling, selling olive wood nativity sets to international pilgrims visiting for the occasion.  Friends I had met during my trip were there, including international volunteers, Palestinian Christians and Muslims. Jesus’ birth means different things to different people, but in this little town of Bethlehem, Christmas brings everyone together to celebrate a joyous occasion in a place where joy is often hard to find.

-- Alexandra Stevens, CMEP Intern, member of the Evangelican Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

A Coming for All People

O God, I pray for peace and justice
for all people.

O God, I pray for love and joy
for all people.

O God, I pray for all children,
women and men of the Holy Land.

Through my words and actions this day
help me live as an instrument of
Your peace and justice.

Through my words and actions this day
help me live as an instrument of
Your love and joy.

Let my expectations
of God with us, of You with us,
include all people.

Help me to be like Christ this and every season.


--Doris Warrell

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