From the Manse December 2018

In that region there were shepherds out in the fields keeping watch over their flock by night ... Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened." (Luke 2:15)

Sitting in a comfortable restaurant overlooking the Shepherd's Field only a few weeks ago, the town was bustling around, cars hooting, radios playing and no fields as such in sight, amongst the stone houses and distant barren hilltops.

No longer in my mind, as I imagined Bethlehem, a grassy hilltop and a dose of Christmas sparkle.

After sharing a wonderful meal of salads and cooked meats, we decided to walk back to Tantaur, through Check Point 300, taking in the wall, a few Banksy's and other poignant works of art, under the watchtower.

Chilled by the wind and the starkness of division, we stopped for drinks at the Walled Off Hotel. Inside the warmth of welcome, enabled our engagement with more art displaying the sadness and reality of Bethlehem today, brought into sharp focus beside the towering concrete divide.

And then we walked up the hill to the Check Point - fairly empty as we easily zigzagged through the enclosed alleyways, smelling fear and experiencing confusion, realising this is a daily reality for many skilled workers daily seeking work around Jerusalem.

We climbed the hill back to the safety of the hilltop hotel garden, under the canopy of stars, silently reflecting - and breathed sighs of relief the gate locked behind us.

We prayed, as we had all along our journey, with new friends, Jews, Muslims, Christians, people looking for this thing that had happened, so we too echoed those time filled words: "Glory be to God in the highest and on earth peace!"

May God bless us with the gift of peace this Christmas.

May we unwrap it and use it for God's praise and glory.

Happy Christmas!

Rev Suva