Tuesday, December 23, 2008

"Prayer this Christmas"

A dear friend of mine, Jill Gooding, recently returned from a trip to Israel and the West Bank, which included a visit to Bethlehem. She wrote this inspiring and uplifting poem that has very special meaning at Christmas. Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

Written after seeing the wall in Bethlehem, dividing Israel and Palestine,
November 2008

They come in teeming busloads
To Bethlehem today
To see the spot of Jesus birth
To find out where he lay.

But -

A wall divides that little town;
Bethlehem’s not the same
As when those shepherds and the flocks
In awe and wonder came.
A wall is there to separate
Brother man from brother;
It tries to say in concrete form
That God is not “our” Father.
A wall just speaks of hate, not love;
A wall is built on fear;
A wall says yes, we are at war;
And shouts, “God is not here.”
But the Bible tells us clearly:

“For He is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man (nation) so making peace.”
Ephesians 2:14,15

So may our prayer this Christmas
Be to see our world ‘unwalled’;
Graffiti-less, unbounded, free,
Where everyone is called
To be the royal child of God,
Not hemmed in by a wall,
But one united family
Kneeling at Bethlehem’s stall.

May your Christmas be filled with
the SIMPLICITY of the first Christmas,
the JOY of the angels at that time,
the LOVE that the shepherds brought,
the ABUNDANCE given by the three kings,
and the RADIANCE of that guiding star:
and may true UNITY be felt at your firesides
and in the world.

--Jill Gooding

The pictures are from my past trips to Bethlehem. They include the Church of the Nativity, Jesus' manger inside the church, and various pictures of the wall surrounding Bethlehem. See my previous Bethlehem blogpost for details on my last trip there.

Merry Christmas to all!

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