Joyful and Triumphant

In 2000, Elizabeth and I traveled to Bethlehem to celebrate the historic Christmas. All the roads were closed, "for security", and so our driver tried one route after another until we finally found a way through a rock quarry.

Making it through the rain, we arrived at Christmas Lutheran Church in time for the pastor, Mitri Raheb, to welcome everyone. People weren't the only ones with travel stories, he told us. Their historic pipe organ, which had been sent to Minnesota for restoration work, had been held up in Haifa until earlier that day. It had cleared customs and made it to Bethlehem in time for organ experts to install it and fine-tune it. Moments before the service, the electricity had been cut. So they ran cables down to the pastor's car battery.

The organ began to play, and the congregation began to sing, "O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant. O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem."

Today we visited the church first thing in the morning. Memory is a powerful thing.