Church

The Flight

Which is based on a poem by George Szirtesr:

The child on the dirtpath
finds the highway blocked
The dogs at the entrance
snarl that doors are locked
The great god of kindness
has his kindness mocked

May those who travel light

Find shelter on the flight

May Bethlehem

Give rest to them.

The sea is a graveyard
the beach is dry bones
the child at the station
is pelted with stones
the cop stands impassive
the ambulance drones

We sleep then awaken
we rest on the way
our sleep might be troubled
but hope is our day
we move on for ever
like children astray

We move on for ever
our feet leave no mark
you won’t hear our voices
once we’re in the dark
but here is our fire
this child is our spark.


Advertisements
Church

The Nativity Prayer-Hymn of St Ephraim the Syrian

The feast day of your birth resembles You, Lord
Because it brings joy to all humanity.
Old people and infants alike enjoy your day.
Your day is celebrated
from generation to generation.
Kings and emperors may pass away,
And the festivals to commemorate them soon lapse.
But your festival
will be remembered until the end of time.
Your day is a means and a pledge of peace.
At Your birth heaven and earth were reconciled,
Since you came from heaven to earth on that day
You forgave our sins and wiped away our guilt.
You gave us so many gifts on the day of your birth:
A treasure chest of spiritual medicines for the sick;
Spiritual light for the blind;
The cup of salvation for the thirsty;
The bread of life for the hungry.
In the winter when trees are bare,
You give us the most succulent spiritual fruit.
In the frost when the earth is barren,
You bring new hope to our souls.
In December when seeds are hidden in the soil,
The staff of life springs forth from the virgin womb.

– St Ephraim the Syrian (AD 306-373)

Church

Photos: Christmas 2011 in Bethlehem

Bethlehem, West Bank – Tens of thousands of tourists and Christian pilgrims packed the West Bank town of Bethlehem for Christmas Eve celebrations Saturday, bringing warm holiday cheer to the traditional birthplace of Jesus on a raw, breezy and rainy night…

By late night, the Israeli military, which controls movement in and out of town, said some 100,000 visitors, including foreigners and Arab Christians from Israel, had reached Bethlehem, up from 70,000 the previous year.

Read on and check out the other photos here.

Church

A Blessed Christmas!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

– Isaiah 9:6-7

To all the dear readers and communicants of this blog: May you have a joyful, blessed, holy and peaceful Christmas! That, as we turn to the One who came to deliver all manner of man, from slavery to sin, to the glorious light of salvation, in His Name, Jesus Christ.

Let the just rejoice, For their justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice, For their saviour is born.
Let the captives rejoice, For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice, For their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice, For their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice,
For Jesus Christ is born.

– St Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-440)

Church

Without the Holy Night, there is No Theology

No priest, no theologian stood at the manger of Bethlehem. And yet all Christian theology has its origin in the wonder of all wonders: that God became human. Holy theology arises from knees bent before the mystery of the divine child in the stable.

Without the holy night, there is no theology. “God is revealed in flesh,” the God-human Jesus Christ—that is the holy mystery that theology came into being to protect and preserve.

How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God’s mystery precisely as mystery. This and nothing else, therefore, is what the early church meant when, with never flagging zeal, it dealt with the mystery of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ…

If Christmas time cannot ignite within us again something like a love for holy theology, so that we—captured and compelled by the wonder of the manger of the Son of God—must reverently reflect on the mysteries of God, then it must be that the glow of the divine mysteries has also been extinguished in our heart and has died out.

– Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 HT

Church

Bethlehem Prepares for Christmas Celebrations

Times Live:

As day broke on this not-so-little-town which lies just a few miles south of Jerusalem, locals began gearing up to welcome thousands of pilgrims who come to see the spot where biblical tradition says Jesus was born to a young couple visiting from Nazareth.

Saturday’s events were to be focused on Manger Square, the plaza in the town centre which was to host a traditional Christmas procession at midday followed by concerts and other entertainment on what is the biggest tourist attraction of the year in the Palestinian territories.

A huge Christmas tree covered in lights and glittering decorations dominated the centre of the square which was already filling up with excited visitors, some wearing red Santa hats, others in the sombre garb of various monastic orders.

Singing filled the square as pilgrims belted out carols in Arabic, and street vendors were doing a brisk trade in cakes, sweets and hot air balloons.

The celebrations were to continue into the night and culminate with a celebration of the Midnight Mass by Latin Patriarch Fuad Twal, the most senior Catholic bishop in the Middle East.

He is expected to deliver a message of hope for peace in the Middle East and around the world, which was also expected to touch on the revolutions sweeping the Arab world.

Bethlehem’s Manger Square is the location of the Church of the Nativity which was built on the site where Christians believe Mary gave birth to Jesus in a cattle shed, and laid him in an animal’s feeding trough, also known as a manger.

Bethlehem attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year and is the main tourist attraction in the Palestinian territories.

 

Culture

The God In The Cave

GK Chesterton. Brilliant.

This sketch of the human story began in a cave; the cave which popular science associates with the cave-man and in which practical discovery has really found archaic drawings of animals. The second half of human history, which was like a new creation of the world, also begins in a cave. There is even a shadow of such a fancy in the fact that animals were again present; for it was a cave used as a stable by the mountaineers of the uplands about Bethlehem; who still drive their cattle into such holes and caverns at night.

It was here that a homeless couple had crept underground with the cattle when the doors of the crowded caravanserai had been shut in their faces; and it was here beneath the very feet of the passersby, in a cellar under the very floor of the world, that Jesus Christ was born. But in that second creation there was indeed something symbolical in the roots of the primeval rock or the horns of the prehistoric herd. God also was a “Cave Man”, and, had also traced strange shapes of creatures, curiously colored upon the wall of the world; but the pictures that he made had come to life…

Read on here.