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Oh Little Town of Bethlehem


English: "(...) Entry of Pilgrims into Be...

English: “(…) Entry of Pilgrims into Bethlehem at Christmas time. It was taken in 1890.” (text from same source) Note: At the source of this picture, several pictures portray Christmas in Bethlehem in 1898 (not 1890). This picture seems to be the only exception. It could be that the indicated date is actually a typo… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza ...

English: Autograph manuscript of first stanza of O Little Town of Bethlehem. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On December 21st, our family will be gathering with others in worship for the seventh annual joint simulcast Christmas service with the people of Bethlehem at the Washington National Cathedral.

Prayers, readings, and hymns alternate between Washington, D.C., and Palestine via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages, and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.

In this age of turmoil and religious strife, it may be a surprise to some to know that Christians have religious freedom in Palestine and that Christmas and other Holy Days are celebrated vigorously!

The carol, “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, was inspired by a pilgrim’s first visit to Bethlehem many years ago. This year it will acquire new meaning for me as we join in song with the “Living Stones”, as the descendents of the first followers of Jesus call themselves today. Let me encourage you to visit and attend church services in Palestine when you make your pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Inspiration awaits.

Learn more about the writer of “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem”, Philip Brooks and his journey, below.

http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/Hymns_and_Carols/Notes_On_Carols/o_little_town_of_bethlehem.htm

http://www.hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com/HTML/christmas_classics_videos.htm#Chap_02

Speaking Of Palestine


Palestinian Christians celebrating the Eve of ...

Palestinian Christians

“When you visit Israel, we urge you to visit with Palestinian Christians and ask them what they want us, their fellow Christians, to support.

David Gushee ends his letter with these words. Nothing one can read, no media report, replaces real experience and conversation with people living in the situation.

Read his letter below.

http://www.newevangelicalpartnership.org/?q=node%2F139

Pilgrims


“In religion and spirituality, a pilgrimage is a long journey or search of great moral significance. Sometimes, it is a journey to a shrine of importance to a person’s beliefs and faith. Members of many major religions participate in pilgrimages. A person who makes such a journey is called a pilgrim.” From Wikipedia.

After forty years of serving other people, we will soon be going on Sabbatical. Another word we are thinking of to describe our journey is Pilgrimage.

There are four “Parts” to it.

The first two parts are self-explanatory, with the first spent in Rest and Recovery and the second part in Spiritual Renewal. The third part will be Refocusing where we will begin to take a look at our future, and at our age, how we can fulfill our desire to “finish well”.

The fourth and final phase of our Sabbatical is Re-entry, and at this point we don’t know what that will look like. It will depend entirely on the first three.

We are very excited about this “journey”, and having uninterrupted time to spend in pilgrimage, exploring and expanding our relationship with God and certainly our relationship with each other, because at this stage in our lives, they are now intertwined.

We will be changed. Or perhaps, transformed.