During my trip to Bethlehem, I had the pleasure of visiting the St. Nicolas Church, an Arab Christian congregation that sits on a side street just up the hill from the Angel Hotel. Behind the church in a small courtyard lie tombs of past leaders of the church. The graves are surrounded with flowers and marked with names and a picture, reminding all who visit this small churchyard of the faithfulness of these beloved leaders.
In their tradition, pastors stay at one place for years and years. At another church, the pastor’s family has been there for 120 generations. Although we are strangers, both churches greet us in the name of the Risen Christ, and instantly, we feel like part of their family because of their warm hospitality.
Across the small street from St. Nicolas, a coed scout troup of various ages meets after school to play and learn together. Surprisingly, two members of a 34 member bagpipe band serenade us in an impromptu mini concert. While most people speak enough English to communicate effectively, we quickly discover an even more universal language that draws us together... the language of love.
After a few minutes of sharing our love for Christ, for children and for music, we leave, our hearts bursting with gratitude and joy for sharing moments of God’s grace with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Thank you, God, that in your love, we are no longer strangers to you or to each other. God bless our brothers and sisters all over the world. Through Christ whose love unites us. Amen.