Dec. 24, 2016

Saturday
John 1:1-14

Israel is a Jewish state, so the majority of people do not celebrate Christmas. The Jewish population celebrates Hanukkah instead. There are, however, some small Christian communities who celebrate Christmas especially in Bethlehem and Nazareth. Many people travel to Israel to celebrate this important event in the Christian religion. In Bethlehem, there are special celebrations. The Church of the Nativity, believed to be built on the site of the birth of Jesus, is decorated with flags and decorations every Christmas. Steep stairs lead to a grotto where visitors find a silver star marking the site of the birth of Jesus. There is a huge procession and firework displays in Bethlehem at this special time.

The Gospel of John makes it clear that though Jesus was in the world he created, the world didn’t recognize or acknowledge him. And though he came to his own people, his own people did not receive him. Many of the people of Israel, though very devout Jews, do not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. Ironically, those who live to fulfill the law to stay in relationship with God do not accept Jesus and the grace he offers. Pray for the people of Israel who are religious but miss the Christ of Christmas. Pray for those who seek to spread the gospel in this country. Pray they would receive the good news. Also today, pray for yourself and those around you who may have gotten “stuck” in religious deeds and traditions but miss Jesus and the grace he freely offers. Pray to encounter the Christ Child in a fresh way today.