Christmas 2012 in Jerusalem

Every year, around about late December, the international media is full of comments about the state of Christianity. Often there is heavy reference to the plight of the various denominations in the Middle East and specifically to those in Israel.

For example, a report from Civitas is concerned that Christians may be wiped out in the Middle East in years to come. As just one example of this trend, ABC Television commentated in July this year of the forcible conversions to Islam in the Gaza region. In Bethlehem, where the situation is complicated by Israel’s security barrier, Christians now number less than 20% of the community.

However, what always evokes emotion is to observe what happens in Jerusalem, a city central to three world religions. This year, I spent 24th and 25th December walking in the area of the Old City. The YMCA was decorated in lights, as were many other churches. Actually, I found the decorations covered Notre Dame, facing St Stephen’s Gate. As Christmas Night approached, the traffic around the ancient Walls simply snarled up. The noise of the tourists – roughly 75,000 are thought to have travelled for the season – were drowned out by the sirens of angry drivers.

Israel’ statistics bureau has been reporting for years that the Christian community in the Holy Land has been growing. They currently account for 160,000 or nerly 2% of the population. This year, the Jerusalem municipality handed out free Christmas trees for those that wanted.

So, if you are looking for some seasonal cheer, and you want to hear church bells ring out in unison, I suggest you book a package deal to Jerusalem for December 2013

 

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