Posts Tagged ‘Bethlehem’

Christmas at Bethlehem

December 24, 2013
Bethlehem Christmas

Bethlehem Christmas

Christmas as experienced in Bethlehem.

Bethlehemian Rhapsody

December 9, 2013

Bohemian Rhapsody, now for Bethlehemian Rhapsody.

Not your usual Nativity scene.

Shown on screen at Spirit of Rock: rock n roll Christmas party at North Camp Methodist Church.

Nativity scene at Lincoln Cathedral

December 27, 2010
nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

This wonderful almost life-size nativity scene can be found just inside the main door of Lincoln Cathedral.

Also see

Capturing Lincoln Cathedral

Midnight Mass at St John’s

Christmas in the Middle East

Midnight Mass at St John’s

December 25, 2010
nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

I had not been to Midnight Mass before nor a service at St John’s, not that is if I do not count two weddings, thus a first on both counts.

I was tempted by a Christingle Service in the afternoon, curious how it compared with Christingle at St Mark’s a couple of weeks ago, but I could not make the effort to attend, so Midnight Mass it was.

I walked there in the sub-zero temperature, crunching through the snow, slipping and sliding on the ice. The church bells were pealing and the church lit up against the dark sky. The moon was shining brightly, the stars too in the dark sky.

The church was fairly full. It seemed little warmer inside than outside, though the Vicar assured us it was. I thought it was a very nice touch to invite the minister from the local Methodist church at the bottom of Church Hill to share the service. A very moving solo performance of Silent Night in German.

I thought of St George’s in Iraq. An Anglican Church with no Anglicans other than the vicar Canon Andrew White, many denominations and Muslims too.

Why shepherds? In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho it is a shepherd who has the courage to follow his dreams.

On leaving a brief conversation with the Rector of Bethlehem today. Two thousand years ago under Roman occupation, today under Israeli occupation. Encircled by the Apartheid Wall, Bethlehem is little more than an open air prison. Christians, and even priests, are prevented by the Israeli occupiers from celebrating Christmas in Bethlehem. [see Christmas in the Middle East]

St John’s is the village church of Washingborough, sadly never open outside of church services and church fêtes and other special occasions.

It was a pleasure to be able to see in Christmas at St John’s

I would have loved to have attended The Messiah by Handel in Lincoln Cathedral. Maybe one day.

For my lovely friend Sian who could not be there. For Diane and Den who would usually be there but were Down Under.

Also see

Christmas Carol Service at St Peter’s

Victorian Christmas Carol Concert St Mark’s

Christingle at St Mark’s

Handel – Messiah – For unto us a child is born

Christmas in the Middle East

December 24, 2010
nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

nativity at Lincoln Cathedral

The Council of Churches in Iraq has asked the faithful to limit Christmas celebrations for reasons of “caution and sadness” due to attacks and threats against them… please pray for persecuted minorities everywhere and freedom for all people this Christmas. – Laura Abraham

As we celebrate Christmas please spare a thought for Christians in the Middle East, who are are not able to or at great personal costs to themselves are able to celebrate Christmas.

In Iraq, where many Christians have already been forced to leave the country, the Council of Churches has warned Christians to down play Christmas for their own safety.

At Christmas our thoughts turn to Bethlehem, as then it is under occupation. Then Roman occupation, now Israeli occupation. Bethlehem today is an open air prison surrounded by an Apartheid Wall. Christians, including priests, are being prevented by the Israeli occupiers from visiting Bethlehem at this special time of year.

Two thousand years ago Jesus and his followers were persecuted by the Jewish Authorities. Today, two thousand years later, the followers of Jesus are persecuted by Zionists.

I was able to attend midnight service Christmas Eve to see in Christmas Day. It is something I have never done before. I did so because I could. A freedom many in the Middle East lack.

The Church in the Middle East pre-dates the Church in Europe. In Iraq, the services still use Ameraic, the language Jesus and his followers used.

An Islamised Turkey is trying to recreate the Ottoman Empire. They are meddling in the former Soviet Republics, meddling in Iraq, meddling in Palestine. Human Rights do not exist in Turkey. We have Europeans taking cheap holidays in occupied northern Cyprus, providing hard currency to the occupiers. Tourists also help support the Islamist regime when they holiday in Turkey. Cheap holidays come with a hefty price tag.

Local Cyprus TV and radio are reporting since Christmas evening that troops in northern occupied Cyprus entered at least seven Greek Orthodox churches, stopped the worship services, threw out the people, and in at least one case forced a priest to remove his clerical dress.

Why in the West are the Churches so silent about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East? Coverage on Channel 4 news a couple of days ago of the plight of Christians in Iraq as they prepare to celebrate Christmas is the exception not the norm.

Even worse than the silence is the hypocrisy shown by St Mary’s in Guildford which has on sale Israeli so-called Peace Oil. [see Peace oil or taking the piss?]

Also see

Muted Christmas in Iraq

Gloomy Christmas for Iraq’s Qaeda-hit Christians

O Little Town of Bethlehem Today

Israel blocks Christians going to Bethlehem at Christmas

Bethlehem Hidden from View

Turkish Muslim troops stop church services in Cyprus on Christmas

Tragic plight of Christians in Iraq

The plight of Iraqi Christians

End of Christianity in the Middle East?

Muslims converting to Christianity

Israel blocks Christians going to Bethlehem at Christmas

December 20, 2010

Israel blocks Christians going to Bethlehem at Christmas, including clergy. Why, because they are Palestinians.

Bethlehem itself is an open-air prison encircled by an Apartheid Wall.

Also see

Bethlehem Hidden from View

Christmas Carol Service at St Peter’s

December 19, 2010

I was actually wishing to go to an evening service at St Mark’s as I had never attended a service at St Mark’s but when I checked there was no evening service. St Peter’s then. But no, I did not feel like going, but a voice in my head told me to go.

I trekked through the snow. It must have been hovering around freezing as the snow was a little mushy, pleasant walking, and I walked fast to keep warm, but nevertheless by the time I neared St Peter’s I was chilled to the bone. As I approached St Peter’s I saw others heading that way, so I was pleased I was not the only one running late. The weather I thought.

I was greeted with a warm mince pie and mulled wine which was very welcome. People were wandering around, probably less than half full. A carol service I was told, which I thought was rather nice. I then learnt the service had been time shifted to 7pm, not its usual time of 6-30pm, so far from being as I thought late I was actually nearly half an hour early. The church soon filled and by 7pm, it was almost standing room only for late arrivals.

The first time I ever attended St Peter’s was a carol service about a decade ago. I was taking photos outside when I heard music from within the church. Investigating further I found it was a rock group rehearsing. I chatted to one of the group. Very generous of the church to let you use it for rehearsals, and the acoustics are excellent, I mused out loud. No, we are playing tonight, a carol concert, would you like to come. A group mangling carols did not sound particularly inviting so I politely declined. Later, I thought no, I have been kindly invited, the least I can do is have the good grace to accept the kind invitation. I attended and was pleasantly surprised. They were excellent musicians.

That was ten years or more ago. Now back to tonight. The lights were turned out and it was only then I noticed the pillars were encircled by candles. A very attractive scene. I regret no camera with me to record it.

We were entertained by a Monty Pythonesque nativity drama.

Christmas is a season of good tidings and joy, but is it for everyone?

Was it for Mary, an unmarried teenager who finds herself pregnant? Was it for Joseph who finds his betrothed not only pregnant, but not pregnant by him? He could have left her, but decided to stand by her. Think of the scandal. What were they to tell friends and relatives?

Christmas is not a season of good tidings and joy for those who have lost their job, those alone at Christmas, those who are homeless, those who have split up from someone with who they are deeply in love.

A strange translation of Luke. Sheep herders brought glad tidings. Sheep herders! The English language has the perfectly good word shepherd.

At least the reference was to a manger, not as I heard a few days ago animal feeding box!

Why shepherds? Jesus referred to himself as a shepherd tending his flock. In one of his tales he talks of being delighted at finding one of his sheep that had strayed and that one lost sheep was more important to him than the others that had not.

In The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, the central character is Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy. He has dreams, but unlike most people who fail to follow their dreams, he has the courage to change his life and follow his dreams. He also meets the mysterious Melchizedek who encourages him to follow his dreams.

I had an interesting conversion with the wife of the rector re making a labyrinth a central feature of the floor of the church. The floor has to be dug up during essential renovations, the pews are to be ripped out, it would therefore be an opportunity lost not to make a labyrinth a central feature of the floor space.

I was a little disappointed at so few carols at what was a carol concert. I felt very sad my lovely friend Sian was not with me.

At this time of year when our thoughts turn to Bethlehem, please give a thought to Bethlehem today. Once under Roman occupation, now under Israeli occupation. Bethlehem is an open-air prison encircled by an Apartheid Wall. [see Bethlehem Hidden from View]

Israel is blocking Christians going to Bethlehem at Christmas, including clergy. Why, because they are Palestinians.

One way we can help is by buying Palestinian fairtrade olive oil, for example Zaytoun which can be bought from The Triangle and many other sources. We only help finance ethnic cleansing by buying Israeli so-called Peace Oil which I regret to say is on sale in St Mary’s in Guildford. [see Peace oil or taking the piss?]

Also see

Victorian Christmas Carol Concert St Mark’s

The Digital Story of Christmas Nativity

Incredible ‘impromptu’ performance of Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus

Handel – Messiah – For unto us a child is born

The Digital Story of Christmas Nativity

December 16, 2010

A very clever take on the Christmas Nativity story.

How social media, web and mobile tell the story of the Nativity.

Christmas story told through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google, Wikipedia, Google Maps, GMail, Foursquare, Amazon …

Times change, the feeling remains the same.

Some things sadly never change. Bethlehem was under Roman occupation then, suffers under Israeli occupation now. The Palestinians of Bethlehem live in what amounts to an open prison surrounded by an Apartheid Wall. Please spare them a thought as you celebrate Christmas. [see Bethlehem Hidden from View]

All the more tragic that there are churches like St Mary’s in Guildford that support the apartheid regime and ethnic cleansing by having on sale Israeli so-called Peace Oil. [see Peace oil or taking the piss?]

Many thanks to Paulo Coelho who posted this unusual take on the nativity on his blog.

Also see

Victorian Christmas Carol Concert St Mark’s

Bethlehem Hidden from View

November 12, 2010

Bethlehem Hidden from View – a glimpse of Bethlehem today by Canon Garth Hewitt, director of Amos Trust.

The time will come when you will be asked where were you when these crimes were committed against the people of Palestine?

When you celebrate Christmas, please think of the prison camp that is now Bethlehem.

Each time a bottle of Peace Oil is sold in St Mary’s, please think of the Pariah state that you are supporting.

How will you answer on Judgement Day when the sheep are separated from the goats and Jesus asks: What did you do when my people in Palestine cried out for help?

For some, Christmas is not so merry.

Also see

Norman Finkelstein vs Wolf Blitzer – Israel/Palestine Double Standards

Israel boots activists out over standing up for Palestinians

Israeli Occupation Soldiers Enjoy Destruction of Palestinian Homes

street theatre Israeli Apartheid Wall