About the Author

Rev Aaron Eime is the deacon of Christ Church in the Old City of Jerusalem, the first Protestant Church in the Middle East. Aaron studied at the Hebrew University in the Masters Program with the focus towards Early Jewish and Christian Interpretation of Bible. Aaron also studied Psychology and Sociology at Queensland University in Australia in the Social Work Program. He is a dedicated Bible teacher exploring the Hebraic Roots of the Christian Faith. He has taught Internationally in many countries including Europe, North America, Hong Kong and China. Aaron is the Director of Research and Education at Christ Church. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and 3 children.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Why is this Night different from all other Nights?

Shalom and Merry Christmas. It might surprise many to know that several thousand Israelis will visit churches across the Old City of Jerusalem on Christmas Eve. Jewish people going to church at Christmas, who knew? What is it that attracts Israeli Jews, predominately secular, to go to Christian Churches at this time? In the words of the Jewish son asking his father on Passover ~ “Why is this night different from all other nights?”

Israelis are a curious people, they love to travel, to explore, to taste and to question the world around them. They live and breathe a life amongst antiquity, surrounded by ancient stones that tell stories of past civilizations and peoples. They are literally imbedded in history, and the ancient story of Christmas is no less attractive for the curious Israeli seeker. 

Israelis gather into groups, find themselves a guide, bus into Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, Beersheba and Haifa and walk around the Old City visiting all the Churches. They go Church hopping, in a good way :) Looking, watching, pondering what Christians are doing on this special night. Unfortunately, not every Church is welcoming, imagine that! Not so at Christ Church, we do exactly the opposite. At Christ Church we have Carols in the Church from 6pm onwards and the Church is filled to the brim, standing room only as Jewish people listen to Christians worship in song. We provide Christmas cookies and the traditional warm ‘mulled wine’ to drink and take the chill from the cool night. Then we gather the people in their groups and speak to them about Christmas. We start by saying, “I’m not going to tell you a Christian story. I am going to tell you a Jewish story!”

The Jewish Story of Christmas ~ The Christmas story is not a Christian story, it’s a Jewish one through and through. It’s a story about a Jewish boy, born to Jewish parents, in a Jewish town, who is the promised Jewish Messiah. Amazingly more than two billion people are going to read and hear that story over the next 24 hours. This Jewish story has captured the hearts of so many people in the world. You don't want to miss out do you? And many will take a Bible home with them that night. Imagine that!

It’s an incredible story set amidst constant tension. A shameful pregnancy, a humiliating birth surrounded by strange visitors, Jewish shepherds and Gentile kingmakers, the childhood flight to Egypt from a megalomaniac despot and visiting angelic beings. Somehow in all this tension a baby makes it all better. You don't know how, you just know that it does. And it’s beautiful. 

For a brief moment in time a window to Heaven opens, you can feel it. For a brief moment in time people are ready to hear the good news. For about two weeks in and around Christmas the openness is so surprising. Then the window closes again and hardness creeps in to the world. This night is very different from all other nights.