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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

St Patrick’s Creed


English: Saint Patrick stained glass window fr...

English: Saint Patrick stained glass window from Cathedral of Christ the Light, Oakland, CA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I was a little girl, my mother would urge me to wear the color Orange to school on St. Patrick’s Day in rebellion against all the Green!

Yes, it was in direct protest against the Catholic Irish and in defense of William of Orange, 1650- 1702! I talked with several women in my church today who told me similar stories about their mothers, mostly Presbyterians from times gone by!

Surprisingly, in those days, we never heard about the wonderful stories of the real St. Patrick who was taken as a slave to Ireland, escaped and later returned as a missionary to the Pagans. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick

St. Patrick’s Creed:

Our God, God of all mankind,

God of heaven and earth, sea and rivers,

God of sun and moon, of all the stars,

God of high mountains and low valleys,

God over heaven and in heaven and under heaven.

He has a dwelling

In heaven and earth and sea

And in all things that are in them,

He inspires all,

He quickens all,

He is over all,

He supports all.

He makes the light of the sun to shine.

The light of the night and the stars he surrounds,

And he has made wells in the dry earth,

Placed dry islands in the sea,

And stars for the service

Of the greater lights.

He has a Son

Co-eternal with himself, like unto himself;

The Son is not younger than the Father,

Nor the Father older than the Son.

And the Holy Spirit

Breathes in them;

Not separate are the Father

And the son and the Holy Spirit.

Amen

The Hazards of Speaking Up for Palestine


Security Barrier between Israel and West Bank/...

Security Barrier between Israel and West Bank/Palestine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve told my story before, how I grew up unreservedly Christian in the United States and accepted the importance of Israel in our (Christian) lineage and prophecy.

When I met a Nazi prison camp survivor during my college years, I was overcome with emotion. He was sitting across from me at a “dish-to-pass” we held each week at the Messianic congregation I attended in Philadelphia.

These were the years when the JDL (Jewish Defense League) was threatening to attack Messianic congregations in Philadelphia. Each Sunday, as we worshiped in our little storefront building on Chestnut Street, danger was palpable.  Heads would cautiously turn towards the front door each time it opened during the sermon, wondering what to expect.

I counted it a privilege and honor to be a part of my Jewish friends’ suffering for their rights to worship as they wished.

For years, I never questioned my high view of Israel. Meeting a Jewish person was, for me, like meeting a celebrity, because they were “God’s Chosen”.

The first time I realized others in the world didn’t support Israel in the same way that Americans did was in Indonesia. A good friend asked us why America always sided politically with Israel against the Arab world.

I hadn’t realized there were sides.

This was the first step in my education which continued as we traveled across the world and then returned home to host international students who held very different opinions from traditional American views.

This was especially clear as we discussed international issues with our Arab students, especially the one from Palestine.

We selected Ahmed because he listed his home as the “West Bank“, and we wanted to learn about him.

His stories were wildly different from the beatific scenes we associated with Israel. Were they possibly true? We began to read up on this area and ask questions. One book was unforgettable, “Blood Brothers”, by Brother Elias Chacour.   http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Brothers-Dramatic-Palestinian-Christian/dp/0800793218

Blogs were written about life in Israel contrasting it with the very poor conditions behind a wall separating it from the West Bank/Palestine.

I wanted to see for myself, so Jon and I took several trips to visit our Palestinian students, and then met Palestinian Christians who told the same stories about Israeli abuses.

When one is meeting a diverse (Christian, Muslim, educated, working class) group of people and all writers from that area are telling similar stories you cannot afford to dismiss their story lines as fantasy.

So, I resolved to return home as an advocate for the Palestinians to tell their stories. I am not

Bantustans, Palestine 2006

Bantustans, Palestine 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

anti-Israeli, but I will not cover up what they do.

It hasn’t been popular to speak up for Palestinians, but I’ve had it easy.

Others, like Steven Sizer, who has a prominent place in the UK, has his way of life threatened.

Read on:

Stephen Sizer: Craig Murray Responds to anti-Semitism Allegations.

Points of Light


Each Christmas season we hang a star exactly like the one in the picture outside on our porch. At the end off each point is a tiny hole where the light shines through. It’s at it’s best if there are no other lights visible around it. We usually keep it burning all night long through the Christmas season. It is especially stunning on the darkest nights.

Moravian Star

Moravian Star (Photo credit: Urban Sea Star)

When our students have asked us its significance we’ve explained that it is a “Moravian Star”, a symbol of the Moravians who took Jesus’ Love to all points of the earth. Each point of the star represents the light of His love.

When I began writing this blog three years ago I wasn’t interested in writing an “inspirational” blog filled with verses and positive advice nor anything remotely home oriented. Nor could I write theology very adeptly.

I was mostly interested in Politics, International Affairs, Justice and Faith and telling the truth about life as I saw it. I imagined reaching into several countries where this particular type of blog might be of interest to someone. Little did I guess how many people might share my interests. At this point I have readers from 123 different countries and every state in the USA.

I am most honored to have readers from countries where I have lived and visited: Indonesia, The Philippines, UK, France, Holland, Singapore, Ecuador, Tunisia, Palestine, and Israel. I’m thrilled that people are reading my blog inside Saudi Arabia, Iran, Algeria and Syria where I may never visit! I like to think this blog is a bit of a Moravian Star for them, shining into their dark nights!

What a responsibility I feel to shine brightly and wisely.

All in all, over thirteen thousand people have taken a peek at the words written here, reminding me of the responsibility I have before God to represent my faith and beliefs with integrity.

Possibly, one reason people read this blog is to find out one American’s perspective on the happenings in the world.  Perhaps they come here expecting one thing and leave with a little different impression. I’d like to think so.  I love to think that my views might make a difference in someone’s life. Who knows?

Since my faith is very important to me, I usually write about current events through the lens of faith. I suspect this appeals to people who also find faith important. I hope my writing reflects how much I love and honor God and Christ.

I wish I were a better writer, but I write simply and frankly. It may come from many years of living overseas and teaching ESL, trying to make myself understood effectively and efficiently. I have little patience with “wordiness” when I can get to the point immediately.

So,  I want to thank everyone who reads my blog, despite its many shortcomings. You warm my heart and fuel my soul! Please, write in and let me know about yourselves. Thanks!

I wish you rich blessings in the New Year, 2013!

A Poem by an Algerian Believer


 

English: Photo of railings and scenery of Moun...

English: Photo of railings and scenery of Mount Huangshan. It is customary to ‘lock your soul’ together by clasping the padlock (often with a personal engraving) on to a permanent structure, such as the metal railing and then to throw the key over the edge of the cliff into the misty valleys below (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

“He Inhabited the Depth of My Heart”

 

I beheld his light from afar
from behind the mountains, from behind the horizon.
He arose like the light of the radiant morning filled with joy.
He arose within my soul so filled with darkness,
my lost and confused soul, my soul that did not know the meaning of rest.
Yet he visited me like the gentle breeze.
Like the fragrance emanates through the hills. He visited me …
He inhabited the depths of my heart and settled there within.
He filled my soul with purity, with life.
He is Jesus, the tender compassionate one Jesus,
the source of my joy Jesus, the anchor of my soul.
I adored him since I first met him, and have melted in passionate love for him.
And how could it be other-wise? For he has loved me from days of old.

 

Anonymous

 

Five Days and Counting


English: Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, Ith...

Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport

I apologize for neglecting this blog. We have five days before several big events occur in our lives.

The interior of our house is being painted so we can put it up for sale in early March. Every room is in turmoil, with furniture moved away from the walls, pictures and books (thousands of books) being packed. We’re swamped with decisions, decisions, decisions.

Of course, we’ve been on this course for the past six months. We’d hoped it wouldn’t come down to the very last-minute, but due to unforeseen circumstances, the weather outside is frightful and we can’t shut the doors yet because our doorknobs are off due to wet paint. Well, maybe tonight!

Jon had a root canal after days of intense tooth ache, and our friend whom we’d sponsored seven years ago had a severe heart attack and several days recovering in ICU. He’s okay now, but it was a close call reminding us of what could have been.

We had planned everything so well, too, because the day we put our house on the market is the day we hit the airport for a trip half way around the world.  At this point, if we can remember our passports and our converter plugs, we’ll be feeling successful!

I think we can manage pretty well with a minimum of other non-essentials.

Soooo, all that to let you know why I’ve not been writing. I’d like to try to post from our location in the other country. I think if I can journal/blog it might be interesting. We’ll see how that works. I’ll be pretty busy with various things, but we’ll try to remember the computer. The key will be finding Wi-Fi and a safe place to hook it up!

More later.

 

 

 

NEW! Connectingthadots.com


Domain Name ExtensionsPlease take note that I’ve made a slight change in the name for this blog, it has to do with the “Domain name” but please don’t ask me what exactly that means.

Maybe you understand this jargon, or possibly, like me, this is all bewildering to you.

I’ve registered it under the only name available which is similar to the original name so that no one else can use the name of my blog. (Ha, except I had to change it’s name so it was unique to me!)

So, this blog which was previously called, “Connecting the Dots” will now be called “Connectingthadots”, which sounds kind of ghetto to me, but maybe it’s cool!

This seemed like a smart thing to do, since I honestly can’t think of another name I like better, or that makes sense for what I write about. A blogging expert says it is a wise move. It’s supposed to be “easier” for people to find my blog.

I feel like I have hit a wall regarding technology and had to get my son to help me connect the blog with the domain (which I still don’t understand).

As we age it’s tempting to think of new technology and ideas as “user unfriendly” which seems to me to kind of blame progress, rather than considering that I’m on a “learning curve”, facing the future with expectation.

I want to step up to the challenge, and not give in to defeat, or despair.

But, right now, I feel like I’m wondering through a dark tunnel.

Derivative work from the original portrait of ...

Image via Wikipedia