Today I celebrated Holy Communion in a small chapel in an area known as the “Shepherds’ Fields” just outside Bethlehem. It is the place where we celebrate the appearance of angels to the shepherds on that first Christmas night.
It is a reminder to us that God chose to reveal the great joy of the birth of Emmanuel (God with us) with those without voice and those excluded from worship because they were unable to maintain religious purity as their work excluded them from keeping the Sabbath.
We went on into Bethlehem and visited a project I last visited 6 years ago seeking to bring reconciliation. The message was the same.
- Don’t just curse the darkness light a candle
- Create spaces for children to play and grow Olives
- Celebrate difference
- The need for collective responsibility
6 years on they are still people of hope and still criticise the media for only telling negative stories about Bethlehem.
The day which began celebrating Holy Communion with those I am travelling with and ended in the shadow of the wall was indeed a celebration of difference and a sign of hope.