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[Today’s Prayer] Christmas celebrations canceled due to war... Bethlehem, immersed in darkness


Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine, known as the ‘birthplace of Jesus’, is expected to have a quiet Christmas this year. This is because it is impossible to hold a grand festival while the war between Israel and the Palestinian armed faction Hamas is intensifying.


According to the British daily The Times on the 10th (local time), Bethlehem, about two weeks before Christmas, is quiet with no special events it would usually have.


You can't hear Christmas carols or see a single Christmas tree. The streets are quiet without flashing lights or crowds. Local lodgings are also empty without guests.


Typically, about 150,000 tourists flock to Bethlehem during Christmas, but this year, the underground caves inside the Church of the Nativity, considered the most sacred site in Christianity, are deserted.


This church, located in the center of Bethlehem, is a memorial church built on top of a stable known as the place where Jesus Christ was born. As the church was built above the stables, the birthplace naturally remained in an underground cave-like shape.


The disappearance of the Christmas atmosphere in Bethlehem this year is due to local churches calling for time to reflect on the sufferings inflicted on residents of the Gaza Strip in Palestine.


The local health ministry reported the previous day that the number of deaths in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war on October 7 exceeded 17,000. In addition to the officially confirmed dead, thousands of more people are believed to be dead or missing buried under the rubble.


With approximately 85% of the population of approximately 2.2 million people in the Gaza Strip fleeing, the humanitarian crisis is worsening as it is difficult to find even basic water, food, and lodging.


“We cannot celebrate Christmas while our brothers and sisters are dying,” said Greek Orthodox priest Issa Thaljieh, 40. “They are grieving and we must be with them.”

Priest Thaljieh said he had recently heard that a Greek Orthodox family in the Gaza Strip had all been killed in an airstrike, and that he was praying for them.

(omitted)


Source: Yonhap News


Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20)

As the war between Israel and Hamas continues, the death toll in Gaza exceeds 17,000, and rather than resounding with joy in Bethlehem, where baby Jesus was born, we hear the news that everyone is saddened by the war and shedding tears of mourning.


Lord who loves Israel and Palestine, the land that should be rejoicing at your birth is saddened by death and war.


Just as the stars and angels in the sky praised the Lord with the birth of Jesus, let the voices of praises to the Lord once again overflow in this land with the joy of the salvation of Jesus Christ.


We believe that the Lord will knock on and visit the hearts of the poor souls. May they hear the voice of the Lord and open the door, and may they eat and drink the bread of life and the wine of the precious blood together.


Therefore, may all worries, anxieties, fears, and death be cut off through the Lamb Jesus Christ, and may they become God’s heavenly people forever.


Let a church arise throughout Israel and Palestine that gives thanks for the hope of heaven and that triumphs over the powers of darkness until the end!

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