With the tensions remaining high in the Holy Land, the celebrations marking the Birth of the Savior of mankind will be subdued in the town in which he was born.
Manger Square in Bethlehem last yearIn light of what the Patriarchate of Jerusalem calls the “general atmosphere” prevalent in the Holy Land, the Municipality of Bethlehem has decided that it will go forward with a schedule of planned events to mark the start of Advent, but with some changes. There will be no lighting a Christmas tree in Manger Square, launching fireworks and sharing a traditional meal. Decorations will be fewer and scheduled concerts will not take place.Instead, on Saturday, December 5 at 7:30 PM (12:30 PM, EST) all of the world’s churches are encouraged to ring their bells, as a call to prayer for peace. Vera Baboun, the city’s mayor forcefully insisted that “Bethlehem remains the city of peace…as we approach Christmas we should pray like never before for peace” [more].
The mayor of Bethlehem has invited every church throughout the world to peal their bells for peace with those of Bethlehem. Those churches that do ring their bells are asked to let the officials in Bethlehem know by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Were I a pastor at this time, the bells of my church would ring out a cry for peace.