I love spending Christmas in Palestine…specifically in Bethlehem! What better place on Earth to be at Christmastime than in the very city where Jesus was born?!?! Over the past several years that Brad and I have been bringing groups to the Holy Land, we have made some very special friends in this city and look forward to our reunion with them each time. Each Christmas, we host a choir project to Bethlehem–church and community choirs from all over the US come together to form a massed choir and perform a Christmas Musical just steps from the Church of the Nativity. Last year’s concert had over 300 Palestinians in attendance…we are hoping for an even bigger audience turnout at tonight’s concert.
Tomorrow, we will tour Jerusalem beginning with the Mount of Olives and Garden of Gethsemane and then moving into the Old City Walls and walking the 14 Stations of the Cross along the traditional Via Dolorosa. We will end up together at the Garden Tomb, just outside the old walled city for a meaningful communion. Tomorrow night, we’ll have an incredible New Year’s Eve Celebration at our hotel–the Intercontinental in Jericho. Last year’s party was a blast–from the food, to the entertainment, to the party favors and noise makers, to the wonderful company–what could be better than bringing together cultures to celebrate together? My favorite memories from last year’s party were seeing Americans and Palestinians laughing and smiling and dancing together, unencumbered by cultural differences and walls.
We will be in this Holy Land until January 6…we’ll see the Jordan River, Nazareth, Mt. Carmel, the Mediterranean Sea (at Caesarea Maritima), Capernaum, the Mt. of Beatitudes, and then move on to Jordan to visit Mt. Nebo, Madaba, and Petra. I love bringing people to this land! I love seeing them changed by their experiences. I love seeing their eyes opened to viewpoints and ideas that they were previously unaware of because so much of what we hear on the news back home is one-sided. Mostly, I love seeing my American friends embrace the Palestinian people…especially the Palestinian Christians that I call friends.