Bethlehem Church Startles Crowds With Redesigned Nativity Scene

( – On October 7, Israelis awoke to the sound of air raid sirens as the Sunni Islamist Hamas terrorist organization launched an unprecedented air, land, and sea attack on the country from the Palestinian-occupied Gaza Strip. The Palestinian National Authority controls the West Bank and hasn’t been drawn into the war — at least so far. However, a church there, in historic Bethlehem, recently startled crowds with its redesigned Nativity display.

On December 8, media headlines erupted with the news that an evangelical church in Bethlehem unveiled its annual display of the nativity scene. However, unlike previous versions, this one shows baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling cloth and laid in a manager amid a pile of rubble to reflect the devastation wrought in Gaza by the Israeli Defense Forces.

The Reverend Munther Isaac, the senior pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church, discussed the display in a statement sent to news agencies and during a short video posted on his X/Twitter page. He said parishioners came up with the idea of displaying the manger surrounded by rubble after being bombarded by “difficult images… of children being pulled from… the rubble” in the Gaza strip daily on their television sets.

Isaac described that footage as “devastating” and said it broke church members’ hearts. He said parishioners are tired of “the world rationalizing and justifying the killing of [Palestinian] children” in the Gaza Strip.

Continuing, Issac explained children are dying, houses are being obliterated, and families are becoming displaced “in the homeland of Christmas” while the world celebrates the holiday season “with big festivities.” He said parishioners want to remind the world about the “injustice” and “suffering” that Palestinians are going through. Isaac concluded his remarks by noting that he hoped the nativity display would challenge the global community to “work for peace.”

It remains unclear if or when the fighting and needless death of civilians might come to an end. The fighting has continued in earnest except for a brief humanitarian cease-fire. However, the United States recently vetoed a United Nations resolution for another temporary end to hostilities.

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