Frankincense News

Although we generally understand that the magi (the “wise men”) of Matthew 2 were not present on the actual night of Jesus’ birth, they are an important part of the Christmas story. We don’t know much about them, including how many of them there were. But we know they brought at least three gifts to the house where the holy family was staying in Bethlehem some months after Jesus was born: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Frankincense was an import from Africa to Asia and the Middle East, and it comes from a small tree of the species Boswellia. Reuters reported this week that the trees are declining in population at an alarming rate. I found this article interesting and thought I would share it with the group. I was put on to the story through the Bible History Daily blog, where there is a good photo of this tree. If you’ve never seen a frankincense tree, have a look!


Seeing the Sights in Bethlehem

This time of year, our thoughts often turn to Bethlehem. About a week ago, the Jerusalem Post ran a “Top Ten” list of sights to see when visiting Bethlehem. The list was compiled by the Holy Land travel company Travelujah. Although our group won’t visit all of these places when we visit Bethlehem in January, we will spend some time there and you might enjoy seeing some more of the “sights.”

Take a look here, and learn a little more about touring in Bethlehem. I certainly have!

I Can’t Wait – Are You Ready?

I can’t wait.  How many  times do you hear children say this?  How many times have I said it?

I want wait for this trip to the holy Land.  I’m so excited I feel guilty.  I feel like I’m running off to meet my one special love yet taking everyone with me to experience it also.

I can’t wait.  Like Children the night before a birthday party.  I can’t wait to see the presents.  I can’t wait for the cake and ice cream.

I can’t wait… I’m so excited!

I’m excited to see the land that Jesus called home.  I’m excited to visit the cities, towns, highways, fields, lakes, seas, streams, that are talked about in the Bible.  Walking the lands of the Bible is so much more than just walking the land.

I’m excited to walk the land and remember the great stories of the Old and New Testament.  A testament, a witness to God’s work and His Love and His Glory.  To be reminded that the stories happened in a place.  A place  that can still be seen.  A place that can be touched.  A place where people Live.  A place where people live and have lived since the events in the Bible occured.  A place where you can feel the Holy Spirit. 

A place that was witness and a testament to the great Glory of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

A place to remind us that these events had to happen some where. A place not so very different from where all people live.  A place where people are open to God and obey God.

A place that is a showplace, an example of how God can work through the ordinary person.  A place that has evolved into something very special, very joyous, very spiritual, and highlights the enigma that is God.  Something that can be known but not fully known or understood. 

Like and object in a paper bag.  You can feel it but not see it or fully understand the object.  Getting to walk, see, and experience the Holy Land is like getting to peek inside the bag.

I can’t wait.. I’m so very excited…When will it be my turn to peek inside this bag?  To walk the Holy Land again.

It is all so moving and exciting, almost infectious.  Even my daughter is struck by the excitement.  When referring to the trip, it is not “when you go to the Holy Land.”  It is, “when you go to that place and visit Jesus.”

How odd, but how revealing that my enthusiasm of meeting Jesus spills over when talk about and plan to visit the land, the place of all the stories.  But it is not a magical place.  It is special, but it is dirt, air, sun, water, trees, hills, sand.  Just like so many other places.  But the experience is deepend when reading the Bible IN the place where the story occurred.  Understanding the stories, understanding that the enigma and mystery of God can be experience through study of the Bible and through prayer .

Didn’t God make me?  Am I not a mysterious, miraculous being?  Created by God. The dirt, trees, water, air, sun aound me is the same that was created and exists in the Holy Land.  I don’t have to wait to go to the palce to gain the excitement.  The excitement of meeting,  sharing, worshipping, praising, and seeing Jesus can happen hear and now. 

I wonder what Jesus’ friends thought when He said He was coming back. Did they look at each other and say “I can’t wait!”  Did they paln and prepare for His return as meticulously as I seem to plan and prepare for my trip to see Jesus?  Have I prepared enough?  Have I done enough?  Is there more to study?  Have I taken enough time to prepare?  Have I prioritized enough?

I relax and trust in Jesus. He is my Lord of All.  I will read and study and Pray.  I Pray that God heals my wounds, my fears, my concerns, and gives me peace.  I pray this for all who will be on the trip.