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O little town of Bethlehem

Chris Wigglesworth reflects on a personal journey to Bethlehem.

O little town of Bethlehem How still we see thee/you lie! Above thy/your deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by; yet in thy dark streets shineth/your streets is shining the everlasting Light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee/you tonight.

PHILLIPS Brooks’ charming carol either keeps Bethlehem alive in our wonder at Christmas, or else the images of its opening verse lull us into mere nostalgic Yuletide escapism.

Inspired by a first sight of Bethlehem on Christmas Eve 1865, during a peaceful period in Ottoman rule, the 30 year-old New England Episcopalian preacher’s poem written a couple of Christmases later almost always call to mind a Christmas card picture of ‘baby Jesus’ in a sleepy village. But it can give an edge to our thoughts about following Jesus, both in Palestine, and here today. The reality is that Bethlehem does not ‘lie still’ now, nor has it during much of its past.

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About Life and Work

IN THIS ISSUE 'COMPELLED BY THE LOVE OF CHRIST' - Christmas Day workers SHOCKING KNOX - The two women at the helm of New College, Edinburgh 'O LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM' - Holy Land Reflections FROM MONTY PYTHON TO MINISTRY - Moderator- Designate appointed