Monday, 24 December 2007

Bethlehem celebrates Christmas
by Dalia Nammari (24 Dec 07)


Gloom was banished from Christmas celebrations in Bethlehem for the first time in years on Monday as Christian pilgrims from all over the world flocked here to celebrate Jesus' birth in an atmosphere of renewed tranquility.

After Israeli-Palestinian fighting erupted in 2000, most of the people milling around Manger Square in the center of this biblical town on Christmas had been local Palestinians. But this year there were large numbers of tourists from all over the world, back after avoiding the region's strife.

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At Wed Dec 26, 03:29:00 am 2007 , Anonymous John Carpenter said...

I just heard Rick Warren say that "Christmas is such a big deal all around the world." Of course, he's wrong. I remember living in Singapore feeling how minor a holiday Christmas seemed. The Christians there seemed to get it right: have a Christmas service, and not make it so much. Beware of the merchants trying to make it commercial. Biblically Christmas is not a big deal: two of the gospels contain no nativity narrative and the epistles contain no reference to the birth of Christ that I recall. American Christians are simply being driven by the world in the way they approach Christmas.

By the way, Warren is so confused.

At Mon Dec 31, 10:46:00 am 2007 , Blogger Timothy P said...

Was trying to find the source quote you referred to re: Rick Warren and Christmas. Found this CNN transcript of him on Larry King, 2 Dec 05.

In it, he is asked what Christmas means in this commercial world. In summary, he stated that the purpose of Christmas is two-fold:
1. Jesus came to show us what God's really like ... we wouldn't know God is loving/forgiving/generous/has a plan for our lives without Jesus.
2. God said, I sent you a savior ... because our greatest need is forgiveness.

I agree with you that many secular and modern societies have consumerised Christmas, what with the Santas, secular carols, pop songs, tinsels, shopping, sales, toys, movies, festivities, countdowns, parties, etc. See this ST article, "Deck the malls," 23 Dec 07.

Re: Christmas services in Singapore churches, I can't speak generally for the majority, but as much as Christmas is 1 of 2 major events in the Christian calendar, we must be mindful and focused on the purpose, meaning and motives behind celebrating. I like going for services which spend time focusing and reflecting on Christ, God's love and God's salvific kingdom program. As opposed to feeling good, love is in the air, celebrate for the sake of celebrating, inward-looking happiness at our own salvation versus outward-looking at the lostness of the world.


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