An Englishwoman Abroad for Christmas

My dear friends and supporters,

Christmas is almost upon us. Most of us, wherever we live, seem to have a “Christmas routine”. How many times have you heard people say “we always do this at Christmas”? For some, Father Christmas comes early morning; for others he comes after lunch on Christmas Day; some people always have turkey whilst others never have turkey. For some the midnight service is essential but for others it is Christmas morning. Whatever it is for you and your family, often these times are special and become memories that we cherish.

The Christmas tree in the church of the redeemer

Christmas tree in the Church of the Redeemer, Amman

Over the last few years I have spent Christmas in various places across the world: Cairo, Bethlehem, Jordan and in the UK, in people’s homes, attending services in special places, experiencing different food, and in unfamiliar customs of celebrating. In many places in the Middle East, Christmas seems to last forever as Western, Eastern and Armenian celebrations all follow one another. It can be up to one month of feasting in one tradition or another. It was also unusual to see Christmas trees lit up in the desert, a strange sight for those of us brought up in the West.

All these various customs and ways of celebrating have special meaning for the people and for the cultures in which I found myself. But common to all is the central focus of the Babe who came, the child Jesus, the Holy One of God.

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us

John 1:14.

For us as believers this is the event in the history of mankind that begins the journey of redemption towards the Cross. A small baby who became a man who obediently followed the way to the Cross, showing the world the love of God and hope for the future.

children at the institute for the deafI have many positive memories of Christmas overseas, one of which was last year. I was working at the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in Salt, Jordan, where Father Christmas was a welcome guest. The Christmas party was held at the School and at the beginning of the festivities there was a drama by the children of the story of the birth of Christ.

 

 

Other memories include being in Bethlehem for the midnight service on Christmas Eve. An occasion filled with awe but marred by needing an armed guard to transport us to the Church of the Nativity. The place where Jesus was born needs our prayers and support. Many will celebrate this year away from family or without their ancestral home and with sadness in their hearts as they remember lost loved ones.

Star of Bethlehem marking the spot where Jesus is thought to have been born

The Star of Bethlehem in the Church of the Nativity, marking the spot where Jesus was born.

I remember the lovely carol service at the Church of the Redeemer, Amman. My duty was playing the organ, challenging to say the least, but a special time knowing that, despite the language issues, the carols speak to all. Last year I was able to shake the hand of the then prime minister who had come, on Boxing Day, to greet the Christian community. I was so encouraged by the respect held by the two communities, Muslim and Christian, particularly at the festival times.

Please pray for:

  • The Diocese of Jerusalem and the Middle East;
  • Bishop Suheil as he guides the Clergy and the Congregations
  • Jordan and the surrounding countries during these times of difficulty and conflict.
  • Christians celebrating the birth of Christ in the troubled land of the Holy One.
  • My future and what’s next.

Wherever you are this Christmas, may God bless you as you celebrate; give peace where there is hurting and trouble, and hope for the coming year.

Love,

Ruth

CMS mission partner, Jordan

Ruth is a CMS mission partner living and working in Jordan. She is based with the Holy Land Institute for the Deaf in Salt, giving administrative support. She previously spent three years working in Egypt, then time working in the West Bank, before moving to Amman.

 

November 2012