During Advent, we are invited to watch for signs of Christ’s coming.
I wasn’t sure, however, how to interpret this particular sign, spotted and preserved for posterity by my husband, Chris!
Perhaps we are to take it as a modern-day spin on Tertullian’s famous question, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” In other words, for this time and in my present context, the updated question would be, “What has Bethlehem to do with Louisville?” To which I gladly respond that Bethlehem has everything to do with the ministry and the mission we are about here in Louisville on behalf of Christ’s church.
In this very building — among my many colleagues — there are even now the sounds of Bethlehem in the work that we do and the relationships that we forge. The strains of the angels’ song of peace on earth echo in the programs that are so faithfully carried out by our staff who work for peace in the world, in the church, in our communities, and our lives.
I share with you here a picture of my 18-year old daughter, Christie, which was taken in Jordan. She and my husband visited there on their way to join a group from our church in Israel/Palestine, places I had visited earlier in the year. When I ask my daughter what is one thing she remembers about Jordan, she says, "Jordanians are so hospitable. They accept all cultures and religions, which is rare in the Middle East.”
My colleague, Victor Makari, Middle East Coordinator in World Mission, agrees. In hospitality, Victor says, Jordanians are superlative, as evidenced, in part, by the fact that nearly half of Jordan's population is made up of Palestinian refugees who were given citizenship. Jordan is also now host to 750,000 Iraqi refugees. In terms of religious tolerance, Victor says that it is one Middle Eastern country that has had minimal religious tension.
What a wonderful message of peace that is both for this time of year and for this time in the world!
So what has Bethlehem to do with Louisville? Everything! Love’s pure light — as held in my daughter’s hands — informs all that we are, and all that we do here.
May it be so in your life this Christmas and always.