Thursday, December 25, 2008

Be part of the action!

That’s what it takes to tell the Christmas story in 30 seconds!

Or at least that’s what it takes as far as the Churches Advertising Network is concerned!

I guess you like that kind of thing or you loathe it!

One thing I did like was the strap line at the end. It’s what has accompanied the poster that they put into bus shelters too. Be part of the action.

It’s the idea Becky has shared with us in her nativity scene – the invitation is there for us to step into the nativity scene and be there.

Be there with Mary and Joseph as they have nowhere to go for the birth of the Christ child and find refugee temporarily where the animals are kept, before fleeing as refugees to Egypt.

Be there with the wise men as they follow the star and encounter Herod in all his power, determined not to allow a challenge to his reign.

Be there with the shepherds as they heard the song of the angels, Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace.

Be there in Bethlehem.

That’s what has been in my mind hauntingly this Christmas.

I have seen the Christmas story differently. I have been there. To Bethlehem. I saw a shepherd with his sheep … but between them and the town of Bethlehem, a wall. I went through the wall and touched the pain of the people of Bethlehem. I touched the tension.

In my mind’s eye I have been there this Christmas.

‘Be there’ … was not the invitation of the advertising campaign.

Be part of the action … at a church near you.

That’s the point of Christmas. It is not just to be there, it is to be part of the action.

The Wise men had gifts to share. Be part of the action! We have gifts to share as well – not just our Christmas presents with each other! But the gifts we share for very practical help in Bethlehem.

We have linked up with the Alex Awad and the Shepherd Society, run by the Bethlehem Bible College. Through our giving we are part of the action bringing care and help, food parcels, medical aid, support in jobs and education renewal of utilities in a very troubled town of Bethlehem.

The shepherds had a message to share. Be part of the action. Have a message to share. Light in a world of darkness. Hope in a world of fear. Love in a world of hatred. Comfort in a world of pain. We met and worshipped at the church of Alex Awad – he has shared a Christmas message with us this year …

“The blessing of Christmas for Christians today is the same as on the very first Christmas: God sent his son in human flesh to become the Saviour of the world.

“With the challenges of the wall isolating the city into an island enclave cut off from Jerusalem and the rest of Israel, Bethlehem’s Christians look to their brothers and sisters in Christ around the world for spiritual and moral support. If we could have two wishes this Christmas, the first is that the Christians of Bethlehem and the Holy Land will be encouraged and strengthened spiritually to stay in the land of their birth. The second is to see a peaceful solution to the decade’s long Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

“With this short message of Christmas cheer, hope and goodwill, we wish you a very joyful Christmas and pray that your hearts overflow with bountiful blessings from above.”

Be part of the action – so what is the action that you can take, - an action to bring the love of Christ, the light of his presence, his comfort, his strengthening into the world?

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