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December 24, 2010

Christmas 2010 - A Message from the Vice Chancellor

ChristmasAt this time of the year we remember that God became one of us. The God who created the universe, this planet, the people who have gone before us, the people we now know, who created each one of us! This God decided it was good to be human and be here with us. This is the astounding mystery of Christmas. God became flesh! God is for us, is for the other people on earth, is for creation, is one of us! God took on this flesh we experience and was happy with that flesh!

God came among us as a helpless baby and relied on Mary and Joseph. He lived with not having everything nice and tidy, not having everything resolved and not being satisfied with the situation. However, the call of Jesus for us is a call of faith, a leap into the unknown and challenges us to live with that messiness as Jesus did right from the beginning here in Bethlehem.

God was here in Bethlehem as a baby, but that was just the start. The point of Jesus’ coming was to bring about a change of heart. When we look at what is happening in this land as well as in other parts of the world, it is clear that what we are facing is something more than can be dealt with by focusing on a tiny baby. Becoming sentimental about a tiny baby will not help us respond to the suffering and injustice that is inflicted on people here in Palestine and in many other parts of the world. It will not bring about a change of heart.

Learning to live with the messiness can give rise to hope and a realization that in the midst of that messiness God is calling us to something more. One of the big challenges here in Bethlehem is to keep hope alive.

There is something really special about Bethlehem, this place where Jesus was born. It is here in Bethlehem that the Christian story began, but it is important not to stay focused on the beginning. Rather we need to look at what that beginning started.

At this time when we celebrate the birth of the baby, the challenge is to be prepared to be confronted, converted and consoled by the message brought by the man who grew from the baby. This message is one of connecting with people, being fully human and leaping into the freedom and surrender that can be called hope. It means to work against anything that dehumanizes people and prevents them from being who they are capable of being.

I pray that hope will be nurtured in each one of you this Christmas and that in the messiness that life is, that you will find the courage to respond by reaching out to others, of taking a stand for others and working to do your part to bring “peace on earth,” of bring peace with justice.

Sincere Christmas greetings and blessing for the New Year.

Brother Peter Bray FSC, EdD
Vice Chancellor


Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine