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Peace Not Walls

Bishop Younan’s Video Christmas Greeting

ELCJHL Bishop Munib Younan, President of the Lutheran World Federation, gives a Christmas video greeting from Jerusalem:

Don’t forget the simulcast Christmas service between Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem and the National Cathedral in Washington, to be broadcast at 10 am EST here.

“Joseph also went. . . along with Mary, his wife. . . who was expecting a child.” (Luke 2:4-5)

These words are taken from the Christmas Eve sermon from Pastor Fred Strickert, the ELCA missionary who serves at the English-speaking Redeemer Lutheran Church in Jerusalem.  On Christmas Eve, the Arabic, German and English-speaking congregations join together at Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem (below) for an international service.  Pastor Fred preached this year’s sermon: 

‘And so the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.’  (John 1:14)  Among us in our world filled with refugees and immigrants.

The child of a refugee family finding hospitality and welcome in Bethlehem, just as the church today accepts the challenge of welcoming the stranger today.  Fred Otieno, from the Church in Nairobi, recently said reflecting on his 18 hour a day, seven day a week position as camp coordinator at the Dadaab Refugee Camp, ‘God has a purpose for us being here to make a difference in the lives of these people, so we must try and help them enjoy their stay, because at the end of the day we all need one another.’ 

This is the message that goes out from the Bethlehem manger, “At the end of the day we all need one another.”

  • Christmas is not about how much we can accumulate and horde, but about how much we can give away, sharing ith those in need. 
  • Christmas is not about walls that divide, security that ntimates, and policies that humiliate, but about an attitude toward life in a spirit which loves the other as our self.
  • Christmas is not even about safe, romantic, idyllic tales of long ago, but it is about Christ coming into our midst, now, in the present moment.
  • Christmas is about welcoming Jesus into our midst, as we welcome the least among us, as we show hospitality to the stranger, for then we may discover that we have been entertaining angels unawares, or even God’s own son. 

Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.




Read full sermon






ELCJHL Schools Wish You a Merry Christmas

A portion of a Christmas card from the ELCHL, illustrated by students.



The ELCHL schools send Christmas greetings to all in a card illustrated by students. 










See the full Christmas card  |  See photos of the Ramallah Christmas program  |  See other ELCJHL photos for schools

Join Bethlehem/Washington DC Simulcast Worship Saturday, Dec. 17

 Join worshipers in Bethlehem and at the Washington Cathedral for the fifth annual joint simulcast Christmas service on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 9 am Central Standard Time. Prayers, readings, and hymns alternate between Washington, D.C., and Palestine via the Internet, bringing together people of different lands, languages, and ethnic backgrounds in celebration of the birth of the Prince of Peace.   The service is webcast live from the Cathedral’s home page.

 In Bethlehem, participants include the Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Jerusalem; the Rt. Rev. Munib Younan, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land; and the Rev Dr. Mitri Raheb from Christmas Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. Participants in Washington include the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, the Episcopal bishop of Washington; the Rt. Rev. Richard H. Graham, bishop of the ELCA Metropolitan Washington, D.C., Synod; the Rev, Canon Jan Naylor Cope, vicar of the Cathedral; and the Rev. Canon John L. Peterson.

Click here to watch last year’s service.