I shall be saying goodbye to Perth for 2010 as I fly straight to Cambodia in the next few hours. Will drop briefly into Singapore to pick up two Samsonites containing my transportation for my epic Bolaven Plateau ride in Laos. As usual, I will be in Cambodia for my annual visit to teach and spend time with the beautiful children of COSI Orphanage. Two years ago, I bought a used Bridgestone folding bike from Japan which I called Blackie for them. It would be nice to see how she is, if she is still around.
Hence although its a little early, its only proper for me to wish all of you a very blessed and merry Christmas. Amidst all the flurry and activities of the holiday season throughout the commercial centres of the world, it may be worthwhile to ponder the true meaning and reason for Christmas in the ancient city of Bethlehem.
My young friend Ryo, 9 years old, wrote this on Bethlehem for his school project which I think is very informative.
In Bethlehem, Christmas is celebrated by many churches holding special prayers and services. There are about 20,000 tourists from Jerusalem who cross into Bethlehem at this time. All hotels are super booked and restaurants are enjoying peak times. In the evening, orchestras and choirs play Christmas music in many types of languages.
2000 years ago, a very special baby was born in a humble manger there. All the focus on the season is upon him. Why?
When asked if he could interview anyone in the world, who would it be? Larry King, the famous cynical CNN presenter replied, "Jesus Christ." One of the greatest military leaders in history, Napoleon Bonaparte, described Jesus in these words.
“I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creations of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.”
The story of Christmas hinges upon this baby sent by God to save mankind. His life made an indelible impact upon history. His purpose -to help us get back into a relationship with our maker. His message of love so long ago still reverberates loudly today and it is this message from Bethlehem that gives hope and light to our broken world.
Perhaps I should plan for a foldie ride around Bethlehem over Christmas one day. It should be a most special time. May you and your family enjoy a Christmas filled with love, joy and peace wherever you are. Ride safe this 2011!