Christmas Still Lives, Despite Bethlehem’s Cancellation

Christmas is on Monday and what a sad day it will be for the approximately 2.38 billion Christians worldwide. We say sad because the birthplace of Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem, Palestine and whose birth which Christians celebrate on December 25, is covered with rubble.

So badly damaged is this little town from the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinians, particularly the Palestinian group known as Hamas, that religious authorities in Bethlehem have decided to cancel Christmas there this year.

This is a huge decision not only for Christendom but for Bethlehem, which, prior to the current conflict, was one of the most popular tourist destinations for Christian pilgrims, tourists, and history enthusiasts. In fact, it is written that just before COVID hit the world, tourism was booming in Bethlehem with every single hotel room booked for Christmas.

One writer stated thus: “If Christ was born today, he would be born under the rubble, which is the reason Christian churches in this town are now officially cancelling Christmas in Bethlehem, and indirectly for Christians around the globe.”

Bethlehem is a town adjacent to Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. It has experienced the impact of Israeli-Palestinian clashes from previous years. It is located approximately 50 km (30 miles) away from the Gaza Strip.

But a cancelled Christmas in Bethlehem does not necessarily mean Christmas should be cancelled everywhere else. In fact, we entreat Saint Lucians, those who abide by the teachings of the Christian faith, not to let the decision by Bethlehem authorities impede their understanding of the glad tidings of the birth of Jesus Christ proclaimed by angels to shepherds tending their sheep over two millennia ago.

Yes, if Jesus were to be born next Monday, his birth would occur amidst destruction and debris. Gladly, he has already been born, died and risen, and for that we should not let the madness going on in Palestine stifle our joy that our redeemer lives.

Therefore, unlike the Palestinian churches which have decided to forgo Christmas celebrations this year, let us in Fair Helen go in the opposite direction and celebrate, not getting ourselves into a drunken stupor but submerging  ourselves in a poignant reflection of what the birth of Jesus means to us and the spiritual gift/s we can gain through a living Jesus.

Let us remind the world that the true meaning of Christmas, which is in our hearts, has not been lost this year despite what is going on in Gaza. Let us continue with our acts of kindness and fostering a sense of community and goodwill in our Saint Lucia.

Let us show that in a world that can sometimes seem fast-paced and disconnected, Christmas to us is not just a reminder that generosity and empathy are cornerstones of our community, but “Love”, a four letter word, is what we should all be striving for because with love targeted towards each other, we can say, with hope, that our society can look forward to a 2024 devoid of violent crime and all the ills that contribute to such crimes.

Merry Christmas to everyone and may LOVE reign throughout this Christmas season and beyond!

1 Comment

  1. It’s a solemn reminder of the ongoing conflicts affecting lives and traditions. Yet, the call to embrace the true essence of Christmas – love, community, and reflection – is inspiring. Amidst challenges, keeping the spirit of hope and goodwill alive is more important than ever. #ChristmasSpirit #HopeAmidstConflict #Bethlehem

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