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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

Stop Killing Terrorists


Brother Andrew’s Prophetic Plea: Stop Murdering Terrorists | Christianity Today.

60 Minutes on the Plight of Palestinian Christians


I have a proposal at the end of this blog. I hope some of you will take me up on it!

Even I am curious about why Israel and Palestine are appearing in my blog posts to such an extent lately! I guess we can say it’s because they keep coming to the forefront of world events!

If you missed the segment about Palestinian Christians done by Bob Simon on

60 Minutes

60 Minutes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

60 Minutes, last night, here it is, within an article about it in “The Atlantic“. Click on the video to watch it.

60 Minutes on the Plight of Palestinian Christians – Robert Wright – International – The Atlantic.

I’ve said that you can only learn the truth about what is going on in the West Bank by going to Palestine and hearing from the people there, but this is almost as good!

I’m also adding a link to, “Tent of Nations”, a Christian farming enterprise in Palestine, surrounded by three settlements. I’ve wanted to give you their perspective for quite some time.

http://www.tentofnations.org/

What do I hope to accomplish with my blog posts?

One small, but realistic goal is that Christians in the United States who visit Israel might do a simple thing. When you tour Israel, let your tour guides know that you want to attend an Evangelical or Orthodox Church in Bethlehem, the West Bank, on Sunday morning. Be persistent. Some guides discourage these visits.

These visits will encourage the “Living Stones”, Christians who remain in the Holy Land, and present an opportunity to learn directly from them. It seems like a small thing for a visiting Christian to do.

I will publish a list of churches in Bethlehem (a short drive from Jerusalem) soon.

We Christians are exhorted in our Holy Book to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!”

If we haven’t already been doing this, it’s a good time to begin.  Peace is not within reach anytime soon, but at least, long established misconceptions are being uncovered.

Christ at the Checkpoint Breakthrough


Stephen Sizer: Christ at the Checkpoint Breakthrough.

Palestine in Threads


English: Embroidered pillowcase produced by Pa...

Palestinian Embroidery

Men and women in every culture create beautiful crafts that are valuable commodities. Regardless of politics, beauty is something we can all appreciate.

As Jon and I prepare for our move, we are sorting through our treasure trove of Batik and other cloth from Asia. It’s a cinch to find people to share them with around Cornell with its Indonesia and South East Asian connections.  We anticipate it may be more difficult to find many South East Asian experts in Colorado…but, who knows?

During our first visit to Palestine, I admired the intricate Palestinian embroidery work on tablecloths, pillow cases and especially, women’s “Thobes”.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/dalbera/5453990541/

These are the long dresses worn by many of the young women on special occasions, while most of the older women wear them on the street going to market and doing their daily tasks.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lilies_of_the_valley/3652885370/

I learned from a friend that each town has it own distinctive design and color scheme. Many of the colors originated from plants indigenous to the area: “reds” from pomegranate, “dark blues” from the indigo plant: “yellow” from saffron flowers etc.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_costumes

I had hoped to find one for myself from her hometown,  but they are costly, and time for proper bargaining ran out.

Eventually, I bought one for myself, in a tourist market in Nazareth.  It was highly inappropriate; immodestly short-sleeved, over sized even for me, with bright multi-colored threads on black.  It resembles a rainbow and wear it as often as possible. I guess you could say it represents is the “Tourist visit of Mary Perry”.

On my next visit, I want to buy the authentic “Thobe” representing Bethlehem, the city of Christ‘s birth. Bethlehem’s pattern reminds me of a traditional red Ukrainian stitch, against a black background.  All the women in the Choir at Bethlehem Bible College wear this costume so I hope I can find somebody who will help me shop and bargain for it.

As I searched on the internet for the exact pattern I was looking for, I found the following short film advertising a book about historic Palestinian embroidery motifs written by Margarita Skinner in association with Widad Kawar.

My interest piqued further as I discovered this ancient film clip from the ’20s of a Palestinian woman wrapping herself in a double thobe/dress.

This was before the modern world came to Palestine. I was fascinated when I thought about Mary, the mother of Jesus  and possibly even Abraham’s wife, Sarah, wrapping their own dresses in a similar fashion. It seemed entirely possible since time stood still for so many centuries before the arrival of our modern technological age.

A little more information on Palestinian stitchery follows:

http://alquds2009.org/etemplate.php?id=300

A Palestinian for Peace on FOX News


http://youtu.be/sn8T1iUIt78

Sami Awad is the Executive Director of Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem and a leading Palestinian advocate for non-violence. I’ve met Sami just once, but am very familiar with his work and admire what I know about him.

 I’m very happy that FOX News did this interview with him, because he is a Palestinian Christian who counts Palestinian Muslims among his best friends. The balanced message he brings is important for all Americans to hear.

O Little Town of Bethlehem. The Film:  http://littletownofbethlehem.org/

Celebrating Easter near Shepherds’ Field


Shepherds' Field

Just a few years ago, one of my favorite quiet places in the Holy Land, was Shepherds’ Field.  It is painful to see its serene beauty being eroded by Settlements.

Palestine News Network has video news report about celebrating Easter in Bethlehem, for those who are interested. Once you go to the link, which is a print story, look to the left under “Video” for the accompanying video report.

The chanting you hear in the background which sounds like the Muslim call to prayer is actually an ancient Orthodox type of chant.