I hope you are doing well today – we are having more rain which is good for us here in Israel – but of concern to those cleaning up the huge oil spill down south near Eilat.
There are many bleak things happening across the Middle East – and even here in the Holy Land.
And here we are just under two weeks away from Christmas and, being around the Old City and also having visited Bethlehem – there isn't much up to account for Christmas joy.
Having lived here more than twenty years I can see the difference – it is simply less expression.
In thinking about this, it could be related to the diminishing Christian presence in the greater land of the Bible.
It could be that Muslim shopkeepers who sought to exploit the holiday cheer wish not to identify with such any more for the dominance of extremism.
Perhaps too, it could be the reality that there are less and less Christian children for whom the seasonal cheer brings much needed joy.
Our family is mindful of the celebration of Emmanuel – God with us!
And I chose to say “Merry Christmas” as I interact with individuals.
The dynamics are different between America, and peoples push to remove Christian joy under the veil of offense, and the Middle East, with the rise of the Jihadist and the identification of the infidel as Christian.
For me, the Angle of the Lord made an announcement – Peace on Earth – Good will toward men…
For me, the Sheppard's reported what they heard and saw…
For me, the Wise men rejoiced seeing the star after leaving their conversation with Herod, which guided them to the Babe born in Bethlehem.
Because for me, the Bible is true and trustworthy with what it said has happened and what that means for me and for you!
I'm excited to learn, share, and be joyful – these are great human gifts – but can't hold a candle to the gift of Jesus born within ones heart by the Holy Spirit.
It's nice to share gifts – don't be ashamed to share the gift of joy this season!
Merry Christmas from where it all happened!
Middle East Correspondent