Last night on Christmas Eve my family drove 3 miles down to road to the crossing from Israel to the West Bank. We parked our car and went through the multiple turnstiles, passport checks, passed the heavily armed Israeli Defense Soldiers, and finally passed the enormous 30-foot high concrete separation wall into the Palestinian Territory. From here we took a five minute taxi ride to "Shepherd's Field" near the town of Bethlehem where we celebrated the birth of the Messiah Jesus along with about 50 other believers in Yeshua.
After singing songs about a baby born in the town where we were standing and about Angels appearing to shepherds in a field perhaps where we were, we headed to dinner with some friends. We ate a Palestinian restaurant called "the tent" and sat at the table with a couple (a Palestinian Christian and his British wife and 4 boys) and another couple from Bermuda with their two boys and we experienced Christian fellowship over some great food. For the first time since moving to Israel we heard Christmas songs playing in the restaurant and we realized that there is beauty in the simplicity of the season. God came to us and through him the earth can have peace. Our Christmas service contained no "special music", no dramas, no eloquent messages, and no promotion for a particular church. It contained people celebrating the messiah and then friends sharing food together before returning home.
As we returned home through the separation wall and watched an impressively armed escort leading dignitaries in a huge caravan into Bethlehem for the midnight mass we looked and saw graffiti on the wall. One piece of graffiti said, "Peace to earth and goodwill to men". The wall, the guns, the armored vehicles, the Israeli flags flying in site of the Palestinian flags, and the intensity of the conflict between these two people groups cannot hide the message that peace is only found in the Messiah. 2000 years ago Palestine they felt the pressure of the Roman government and longed for a leader to come and to deliver them from the "occupying" forces. He came to a town called Bethlehem and showed the way to peace. People still long for this message today so all followers of the Messiah Yeshua should show the way to peace through our lives. Let your Christmas this year fly in the faces of the "separation walls" and the hatred that fills our lives. Let us remember that flashy Christmas services and beautiful churches will never bring the message of Jesus to the world. Peace comes through our lives so may peace reign on earth and may there be goodwill towards men through your lives.
Don't forget to check out more thoughts from my wife at The Jerusalem Letters .