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ELCA World Hunger

bethlehemgatesmall-795312Pastor Julie Rowe served with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land from 2004 to 2008 and watched the walls and settlements grow and encircle Bethlehem and other Palestinian towns and lands. She wrote this for those who sing the traditional carol to make them aware of the current reality and hopefully stir up some conscience to do something to free the town of the One who freed us. Learn more at

The Little Town of Bethlehem
by the Rev. Julie Rowe

From the little town of Bethlehem we sing to you tonight;
Our streets are clear, there’s no one here, who sees our daily plight;
Once here was born a savior, but now we’re all enslaved;
By razor wire and walls and towers, now when will we be saved?
The little town of Bethlehem gets smaller every day;
They take our land, some have it planned to make us fade away;
The settlements keep growing, they’re bigger every day.
We’ve not much left from all the theft, so soon they’ll have their way.

The little town of Bethlehem is trapped by walls of stone
By razor wire and giant towers we’re left here all alone;
Tonight as you sing carols of peace on earth to all
Think of us all behind the wall that dwarfs the manger stall.
O Holy Child of Bethlehem, descend to us, we pray,
Break down our walls and hear our calls, bring just peace here to stay;
We hear the Christmas angels, their great glad tidings tell:
Live in your land, there’s peace at hand, from God Immanuel!

So, how was your trip?

p1010704sm-778481 My husband, Paul, and I recently returned from a trip to Jordan, Israel, Palestine, and Egypt. There were 21 of us related somehow to St. Luke’s Lutheran in Park Ridge, Illinois, traveling “On Holy Ground” together. We had the time and the leadership to (1) encounter people and groups representing many perspectives/views/sides of the issues; (2) visit important Lutheran places and people at Augusta Victoria Hospital and Resurrection Lutheran in Jerusalem, St. Andrews in Cairo, and Christmas Lutheran in Bethlehem and others; (3) experience the holy places and churches; and (4) do some fun, touristy stuff like visit Petra and take a bob in the dead sea.
Our group had regular meetings to prepare for the trip and we’ve had our first meeting to debrief and prepare for post trip. We talked about how we answer the question, “How was your trip?” We came up with words like engaging…enraging…enlightening…and others less alliterative. We admitted that we couldn’t yet really answer “How was the trip?” for ourselves, much less for others. Most of us just answer “It was great!” and promise ourselves to work on a better answer for the next time.
I invite you to visit our photo journal at — e-mail me for the password. And, if you or your congregation is planning a trip to the Holy Land, I heartily encourage you embrace a “Peace Not Walls” itinerary and to visit Lutheran “holy ground” places like those I mention above. I happen to know that, as I type, someone is attending New Global Mission Personnel Training who will be charged with helping travelers to the Holy Land accomplish these very things. Until we have direct contact information, please call 800/638-3522, ext. 2654 or 2117.
By the way, our trip was great, blessings on top of blessings. Sue-s