Recently, I stood near a hill at the edge of Jerusalem. Just five miles or less from where I stood is the village of Bethlehem. At the time of Christ's birth, Bethlehem was a small villege, but now it is a political hotbed in the "West Bank." I stood looking over a huge man-made wall that has been recently erected between Bethlehem and Jerusalem--a wall built specifically to keep people from crossing into Jerusalem from Bethlehem. Sadly, for the present time at least, this wall is necessary for safety. As I stood looking across the wall, I realized how difficult it is today to get to Bethlehem. You must pass through heavy security, and you're even required to change transportation once through a "no man's zone." If the wall were down, you could walk from Jerusalem to the Church of the Nativity--the manger--in less than an hour! And so, this Christmas 2009 as I contemplate my feelings of sadness as I witnessed the physical wall between Bethlehem and Jerusalem, I think about the barriers in my life that could keep me from Christ and the true meaning of Christmas. The walk to the manger--to Christ Himself--is easy when we tear down the barriers between us and Him. May that be a reality for each of us this time of year, and as we begin another year. I encourage you (and myself) to tear down any walls or barriers that would keep us from Him or from His service. May God bless you richly this beautiful season! Picture was taken at the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus preached the "Sermon on the Mount."