It is a time for me of spiritual pilgrimage in which I seek and find Christ in our world as it is. It is a time when I recall the things that have made an impact in me throughout the year and time when I reflect that Life is a God-given opportunity to affirm our own spiritual nature, to be who God wants us to be and to say ‘YES’ like Mary the mother of Jesus to the one who calls us the beloved.
A few weeks ago I spent the day in Edinburgh and came across a wonderful spiritual shop. It is a shop that invites us to look at the journey and struggle of Palestinian Christians and their neighbours in Israel. Being in this spiritual place made me think of the time of Advent and the time of waiting for the birth of Jesus and made me questions what must it be like to wait in or near Bethlehem today for the birth of
Jesus? I suppose at this time the images given to western people of Bethlehem are of a wonderful settled place of rolling hills, shepherds roaming about with their sheep and although it is busy there is a wonder about it. The Christian cards and images display tranquillity and all of this draws you into this preconception of peace .The reality of course however is that life near and in Bethlehem is filled with struggle, with occupation and fear. It is so easy to let fear paralyse us into non-action and as I looked back at the violence, the discrimination, the injustice and the changes happening in our world I have felt afraid. But I ask how will my fear help? Reality: it won’t. In the Bible the words ‘Do not be afraid’ are written 365 times so Jesus is reminding us every day not to be afraid. So the challenge in the midst of change is to find inner peace. That peace that only Jesus can give. If we are routed in relationship with Jesus Justice and Peace are possible.
Gareth Hewitt in his book Occupied Territories expresses this amazingly; ‘Somewhere around 4BC the Prince of Peace was born. A word, a statement, an action, a lifestyle, a revolution of love burst with hope from Bethlehem – at the time, an occupied territory- showing us how to live as a kingdom or community of love.
Now Bethlehem is an occupied territory once again. But a movement is being born again there from the followers of the Prince of Peace that says there is a better way, a nonviolent way. This community is sending a message of love, justice and peace, a prophecy that offers hope to the whole world’.
This is the GOOD NEWS.
May you find inner peace wherever you are and may you know the revolution of love that bursts forth from Bethlehem as Jesus is born again.