Some Advent Reflections

Advent is a time for waiting and reflecting; a time for preparing for the coming of Jesus at Christmas; a time for looking back and looking forward. Of course there are many ways in which we can prepare ourselves spiritually. It is certainly fulfilling to reflect on what happened in Bethlehem some 2020 years ago, and good to know what it is like today.

“The star of hope has to appear again, but it will come only when our hearts seek it, when there is a passion for it – a sighing, striving, and aching for the great mercy to come. Yes, the star will return, and then it will shine not just for a few, but it will quickly spread its brilliance over the whole world.” – Christoph Blumhardt

We have been fortunate to have four students from Bethlehem University being prepared to offer their “voices” in what Advent and Christmas means to them at present. They will give us a voice for each week of Advent, hoping that the Christian message from Bethlehem – an occupied town as in the days when Jesus was born – will spread across the world.

We begin this week with “The Voice of Hope.”

The Voice of Hope

Christmas is the time of hope to people all over the world. I, Natalia Ghattas, a citizen of Bethlehem from the Holy Land, would love to share with you how we celebrate Christmas. We now begin our preparations through Advent and wait for the coming of Jesus. It is a time of preparation… and waiting… and hoping…

In Bethlehem, hope is at the centre of our Christmas. As the holiday approaches, people intensify their prayers for peace, not only for our lands, but also for all people around the world especially during these hard times of the pandemic. When December approaches, the city is transformed. The streets are decorated with colored lights that shine through the night as hope that shines through the darkest times. The huge decorated Christmas tree takes center stage in Nativity Square where a Christmas Market full with Christmas decorations, embroidery, clothing, and traditional and exotic food are sold. On that day, there are also some bands, and soloists performing Christmas songs to add to the joyful spirits! The most awaited day is the 24th of December when at least 10 scout groups from all over Palestine march around the city adding to the Christmas joy.

We wait for Christmas Day, when everyone gathers with their family to exchange gifts, and to eat lunch and reminisce. To me, Christmas always gives me hope because it is the time where we all come together as the big family that we are. This Christmas, we may not gather as is the case every year but we will continue to be hopeful while virtually together. I am really hoping for everyone to be safe from the virus and from any other misfortune that may happen. We are a family and one is not alone even when physically separated!

Hope keeps us alive together, so keep on hoping!! After Advent , have a very nice day and Merry Christmas!!                                                                                                

Natalia (Ghattas)

Bethlehem University