Due to its ongoing success here, the Bethlehem Carving Group will be returning, once again, to give us a taste of Christmas next weekend.  It was originally planned for the end of July but scheduling conflicts led to its postponement to next week!  Those of you who have visited our parish center when they have been here in the past know that the Bethlehem Carving Group offers a wide variety of beautiful olive wood carvings and other products for sale.  I have invited the Bethlehem Carving Group to set up shop here for the past several years, both for our benefit and theirs.  From my years of experience in the Holy Land, I know that this is one of the best companies and their carvings are of the finest quality.  And, they offer new items every year!  The wide variety of religious articles that they bring us will be lovely additions to your homes and make for excellent gifts, especially for Christmas but also for other occasions.  I have given their handsome wood carvings both at Christmas and for wedding and baptismal gifts; the recipients have always appreciated them.

Purchasing these products from the Bethlehem Carving Group supports the Christians who are struggling to eke out a living in the land where Christianity was founded.  I’m sure you have read or heard about the ongoing serious conflict between Israel and Palestine.  The Christians live almost exclusively in the Palestinian territories (Bethlehem is located in the West Bank, one of the Palestinian territories) and their lives are made very difficult by these ongoing struggles.  So, I invite you to come and shop for Christmas – or any other occasion – when representatives from the Bethlehem Carving Group come with their articles next weekend.

The olive wood handicraft art began in Bethlehem in the fourth century following the construction of the Church of the Nativity, built over the traditional birthplace of Jesus. The same monks who served the Church of the Nativity taught the handicraft trade of carving olive wood to the local Christian residents.  This handicraft was then passed on from one generation to the next and was perfected and mastered, thus continuing the ancient tradition of beautiful and exquisite olive wood carvings in the Holy Land.  The Bethlehem Carving Group artists combine the experience and skills of the old traditions with the innovation and creativity of the new generation.

Please stop by the tables that will be set out – either between the church and the rectory or in the parish center, depending on the weather – to examine these fine olive wood carvings; you might be tempted to buy a few!  In doing so, you will get a chance to shop early for Christmas and, at the same time, you will be supporting our fellow Christians living in the land made sacred by our Lord.