Every year around this time, especially during a candle-lit Christmas Eve service, we sing the familiar carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” accompanied with nostalgic images of a quite, sleepy, peaceful village town in Israel. Historically we believe this to be true, but alas times have changed.
I recently visited Bethlehem, situated in the Palestinian West Bank and what I found was rather disturbing. The once peaceful environment is now literally walled out.
This is a complex history behind this, which is worth familiarizing yourself with but depending on which resources you read and people you speak with, the causes and impact vastly differ.
Yes, there are two sides to every story, but for most of my life living in America, I only heard one side of this story.
I recommend watching the link below for a brief observation of what is going on in Bethlehem, from an often unheard voice in this sad saga.
Yes, I realize there is truth in both sides of the stories, but too often we never get to the point of honest dialogue and meaningful discourse when exposed to only one perspective.
For those seeking hope, reconciliation and restoration (and have not giving up hope even in the midst of the current strife and turmoil), there are some wonderful resources and organizations I have been made aware of recently.
I have highlighted three worth looking into.
One is a documentary, one is a conference and one is an NGO.
All aim to use the tools of truth, honesty, open conversation and friendship to bring an end to the hatred and hostility in the birthplace of the Prince of Peace.
O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above your deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light,
The hopes and fears of all the years,
Are met in thee tonight.
O morning stars, together
Proclaim thy holy birth
And praises sing to God, the King,
And peace to men on earth.
For Christ is born of Mary,
And gathered all above,
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love.
How silently, how silently,
The wondrous Gift is giv’n!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive Him still,
The dear Christ enters in.