As I noted in last week’s post, I’m sharing my thoughts on my interactions with Palestinian Christians in the Holy Land this Advent. Today I want to focus on a family that turns their home into Jerusalem Santa’s House each year, a place for “children to feel the spirit of Christmas” in a city that is largely hostile to them.
As I outlined earlier in Advent, Palestinian Christians are a challenged minority in a land inhabited mostly by Jews and Muslims. Many Christians are leaving—despite the fact that this has been their spiritual homeland for 2000 years. Some few are staying, though, and finding ways to proclaim their faith anyway.
On our recent pilgrimage, we visited this ancient Jerusalem home in the heart of the city. Every year, the family opens it to the public in the weeks leading up to Christmas to bring Christmas joy to children and tourists in the city. Their house is festively decorated and offers music and Santa visits for free. I was moved by this family’s willingness to open their home and make a public statement about their faith in this way.
As we live into the final week of Advent, I invite you to consider the children in your lives. What messages are they receiving about Christ and Christmas, and from what sources? What stories do you share with them about your faith? How might you open your home, literally or metaphorically, to bring the spirit of Christmas to them this year?
And on a broader scale, how are you called to share your faith in a time when, at least in the US and many Western cultures, Christianity is being coopted and warped in unrecognizable ways? How might God be inviting you to support Palestinian Christians in their struggle to survive in the very cradle of Christianity?