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Posted on Dec 26, 2014 |

Bethlehem Today

Bethlehem Today

fireworks beit jala

Fireworks at the public Christmas tree lighting in the Christian village of Beit Jala, outside Bethlehem, are accompanied by carols and songs familiar to American parishes.

Milford pastor Fr. Rob Waller reflects on the Holy Land today:

Sitting in my den at 8:21 a.m. on what my mother called “Christmas Eve day,” my mind and my heart, my thoughts and my prayers wander to the Middle East, and more specifically to Palestine, and more specifically to Bethlehem, and more specifically to Beit Jala, adjacent to Bethlehem.

It is Beit Jala that warms my Christian heart and sustains, what others have called, my Palestinian soul. I have fallen hopelessly in love with Beit Jala with a love full of hope which longs for peace for my friends, no, my family, in Beit Jala.

On Facebook I found a post by my (our) friend Waseim. From Arabic his names translates as “Handsome,” which has given the two of us many smiles since I first teased him, “Something certainly gets lost in translation!” I asked him to post it on YouTube, so that I could copy it and embed it here. Within hours of his waking in Beit Jala on Christmas Eve, he honored me and my request, as he always does, and so it appears below.

(Email subscribers: Click on the post headline to watch the video at our website.)

The countdown is obvious to our ears, however different the sound of the numbers. The feel of Jingle Bells is the same, no matter the language. And we join in singing the “Gloria in excelsis Deo” like we (and they) will sing those words in our hometown churches, here in the little town of Milford and there in the little town of Bethlehem.

Fireworks, of different kinds, are a common occurrence in the area surrounding Beit Jala, some set off in celebration and some set off in conflict. On this occasion, however, as during the celebrations of weddings, graduations and baptisms, the fireworks are explosively joyous. At the end of the video the noise of the fireworks overtakes the singing of “Glory to God in the highest.” We all live in hope that one day soon the song of the angels will overcome all military firing, and Beit Jala and Palestine and all the region will live in peace with justice with all her neighbors who deserve and long for the same freedoms and rights.

May Beit Jala know the peace the angels sang about during that mid-night on which Christ was born.

Fr. Rob Waller is pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle parish in Milford (OH). This post originally appeared on his blog, With Open Doors, on Christmas Eve. 

Video by Waseim Kasatry, courtesy Fr. Andrew Waller.

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