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IT’S ADVENT SEASON AGAIN AND THE FIRST SUNDAY OF ADVENT THIS YEAR 2020 COINCIDED WITH THE ANNUAL DAY OF SOLIDARITY WITH THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE. EACH WEEKEND OF THE FOUR SUNDAYS OF ADVENT WE WILL FEATURE A DEVOTIONAL FROM BETHLEHEM WHERE THE PRINCE OF PEACE, JESUS, WAS BORN. TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL IS WRITTEN BY DR. SALIM MUNAYER, PROFESSOR AT BETHLEHEM BIBLE COLLEGE AND FOUNDER OF THE RECONCILIATION MINISTRY, MUSALAHA.
As the Christmas season approaches, I reflect on the events leading to the birth of Jesus and its relevance for us today. I am struck with the depth and insight God gives to us through different characters and situations in this story. One of the central themes in the story of our Savior’s birth is that of waiting. Today we are waiting for the vaccine for COVID-19, waiting for the end of the lookdown, waiting to go back to the “normal life”. In Luke’s gospel, we see faithful people who are waiting – Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna. I ask myself, how can we learn from them within the context of our conflict and COVID-19 here in this land? Waiting takes place in different forms and we see how people in this land are waiting in their own right.
During the last weeks, I have been reading Henry Nouwen on the “disciplines of waiting.” In this, he shares how waiting is active, not passive. We are “to wait with openness and trust as it is an enormously radical attitude toward life.” And, as we look throughout the scriptures we see that waiting always came with a promise. For example, Zechariah and Elizabeth received a promise that they would bear a son, and with it the courage and the strength to wait. Nouwen writes, “A waiting person is someone who is present to the moment, believing that this moment is the moment.”
Sadly, throughout history, many were unwilling to wait. The prophet Zephaniah criticized the children of Israel for not waiting properly for the Lord. They were busy looking at what was coming, anxious about the future. Fear of the future also influences people today. The overwhelming events around us cause many to run away, move out, or in some cases, lash out against the other.
Nouwen reminds us that we are waiting for something that has already begun inside us. For us, living in the midst of this conflict and COVID-19, we actively wait upon the Lord as we pursue his kingdom and obey his commandment to be peacemakers.
For some, waiting is giving up and despairing, yet for us as followers of Christ, our waiting is yearning and preparing for something greater. We are “nurturing the growth of something within,” and we do so with hope! Throughout scripture, we see that in waiting there is an acknowledgment of God’s promises and trust that God is revealing something that he has already placed within. As a result, every moment we work for peace and reconciliation, we are waiting to see how God will manifest himself in the future. It is a willingness to stay where we are, partake in the work God has appointed for us, persevere in our endeavour, patiently wait for his will, and grow where we are planted. At the same time, there is a danger in waiting. Some are waiting for a political solution, trusting that our countries’ leaders will come to terms with each other and solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and quick solution for COVID-19. Others have given up on waiting and have accepted the status quo. There are also those who are waiting for an apocalyptic and divine intervention that will resolve this conflict once and for all or a miracle vaccine. When these things do not come to pass in the way we anticipate, we can become disappointed and give in to despair.
Nouwen also reminds us that waiting is open-ended as God is molding us in his direction for the future. Waiting is hard for us because our desires are selfish and we think we can control the future. However, open-ended waiting is relished with hope, a hope in God, and with trust in him. During the time of our Savior’s birth, some were waiting for the Messiah with the expectation of deliverance from political persecution, and because of this, they did not recognize him when he came. Yet we see others who waited upon the Lord, and their faithfulness was rewarded, and their hope made manifest.
God always has a plan that exceeds our limited selfishness. God’s plan surpasses our ethnic hopes and aspirations. God sent his son the Messiah to save not just my people, or your people, but all of us. Mary’s waiting for the birth of her son indicated her assurance that God would fulfill his promises and that he would act in the future. We place our hope in God, knowing he will complete that which he has started, and we actively wait for him as we pursue his kingdom, waiting for him to put this world to rights. While we wait on God, God waits on us, waiting to see our response to his calling in this world.
HOPE OUTREACH OF CANADA
Assisting Ministries In The Holy Land!
HOPE Outreach of Canada exists so that our neighbours worldwide and particularly those in the Holy Land come to know Jesus and as His fully committed followers, promote His true and lasting peace.
In assisting ministries in the Holy Land, we partner with 40-year-old Bethlehem Bible College, The Shepherd Society, Nazareth Evangelical College and the reconciliation ministry, MUSALAHA.
Explore our website for news, updates, videos, prayer items and more…about these vital Holy Land ministries. And take our latest Quiz challenge here.
Also watch for news of our rescheduled “Journey Through The Bible Tour” of the Holy Land and Bethlehem Encounter trips under OUR WORK – MISSION TRIPS here.
Bethlehem Bible College is celebrating forty plus years of training young people for ministry in the Arabic speaking world from the city of Jesus’ birth. Founded by Dr. Bishara Awad, today it is impacting the entire world through its effective on-line biblical training programs in the Arabic language.
How effective has the school been over forty plus years?
According to “The Atlas of Global Christianity” by Todd Johnson & Kenneth R. Ross, what country sends out the most “missionaries” per capita?
- Palestine: sends 34 missionaries for every 10,000 believers . The most by any country in the world.
This is a training center truly worthy of your support, prayers and visits.
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