Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

My Christmas 2007

Here is a photo diary of the events of Christmas as I spent it. You have to look hard for the lights and sights that accompany Christmas. But, it's there, similar yet different.

People waiting at the door of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. It was the first of two Christmas Fairs that were held during Advent. The Church body is made up of three congregations, German, Arabic and English speaking. This fair was hosted by the German speaking folks.

They were making Christmas waffles as well as other goodies. There were many little items to buy at the fair made from different Christian groups in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

These two blurry photos are from the St. Lucia Festival at the Swedish Theological Institute in Jerusalem. After the procession and singing by this choir we were treated to gingerbread star cookies and mulled wine. Following the festivities was a service in their chapel with wonderful singing and music, a great homily by the Swedish pastor at the Institute, and prayers offered by the seminary students who were from all over the world. This was held on December 13.

One of the only "true" as only the Americans can do it Christmas displays. This was put out by one of the little coffee and candy shops up Latin Patriarchate Street just inside of Jaffe Gate of the Old City in Jerusalem.

I went to an Advent Fair at the Dormition Abbey two weeks before Christmas. This pretty little display was in the room where the Benedictine Monks were selling candles, incense and cd's that they make. It's a German speaking Abbey so the goodies to eat were Dormition Cake, a plum, walnut and chocolate absolutely delicacy and hot mulled apple cider.

Inside of the Dormition Abbey. Their Advent wreath hung from the ceiling of the nave of the church. The candles were red for Advent and when I went to the Midnight Mass the greenery had been taken down and red candles were changed to white.

After services in Bethlehem we returned early. I rested and then went to the Midnight Mass at the Dormition Abbey. It was very beautiful and moving. The monks were vested in white and the Abbot processed in with his staff and mitre. The New Testament, a beautiful, large, jewelled book was held high in the processional as the rest of the monks followed. It was a long service ending at 2:00 am. I don't have pics from the service because they asked especially for us not to take photos. Which, was just fine!!

Thanks to Connie who sent me this Christmas tree. I added some angels that I had painted in anticipation of having a tree. The Israeli government gives out trees at Jaffe Gate....for free! I did not get one however because I didn't want to get into a cab with it nor did I want to drag it on a half an hour walk to my apartment. The other ornaments that are laying around this tree are olive wood ornaments that I bought in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
One of the side altars at the Dormition Abbey the Saturday before Christmas.
Christmas Eve. We went to Bethlehem early on Christmas Eve, this is a street scene before it got dark.
Christmas Eve in Bethlehem. Outside on the was packed with people this year. Street vendors where hawking the ususal things tea, nuts, fruit, etc. On this night there also was corn on the cob and cotton candy, party hats, and flashing stars. It felt like a carnivale.

However, there was a beautiful service inside of the Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. The congregation from Jerusalem - Lutheran Church of the Redeemer (that's who I was with) participated as well as the German speaking congregation from the Redeemer Church. It was a very beautiful service. The different parts of the service were in German, English, and Arabic. The music, universal!! The bell choir and choir played wonderfully. The sermon was in Arabic - interesting!!! However we were given a summary in English, thank goodness. We said the Lord's Prayer in our own languages at once and at the end of the service we lit our candles that we had been given and sang Silent Night in our own language. Very moving. The above picture is of the dome inside of the church.

Lovely stained glass windows which are original to the church built between 1886-93. There are 14 in total, here is just one of them. It is from Luke where the angels appear to the shepherds.
Christmas tree inside of the church. You'll notice that all of the Christmas trees are light in color - I don't know what kind of evergreen but all of the trees are this color. And, of course, an olive wood nativity scene below the tree.
Altar of the Christmas Lutheran Church.

After the service we walked down to Manger Square to see the festivities.

On the way home about 7:30 pm. We passed through the checkpoints without much ado, this is the security fence as we were leaving Bethlehem. Below is a picture of candy. Our bus was pulled aside and we were asked to disembark, which we did. We had to go into a tent and a woman from the Israeli Ministry of Tourism gave out these candy cones and wished us a Merry Christmas. Of course, many photographers were there. A little weird because the other bus with our group was not chosen to be stopped and given candy.

A Christmas party-er! Hey, the hat and the star will be good for quite a few children's sermons in the future.
This little boy was so cute. He did his own hair that night. He was at the Bethlehem Church service and now was waiting for Santa.
In Jerusalem. This is the chapel inside of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer where our little English speaking congregation worships.

A Christmas brunch at the Pastor's home.

No comments: