A Day in Bethlehem

The day has been clear, bright and sunny, and in the 60s. In other words, a spectacular Sunday to attend worship and to see Bethlehem.
We started the day outdoors, at the Shepherd’s Field.
image

We sang, learned about the area, and explored the caves while enjoying a magnificent view of the outskirts of Bethlehem.
image

From there, we drove to the Herodium, one of Herod’s palace-fortresses.
image

What a contrast in the royal accommodations enjoyed by the earthly King Herod and Jesus, the King of kings, born within sight of that palace in the town.
At 10:30, we entered the Lutheran Christmas Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem to beautiful organ music, warm hospitality, and a worship experience we will never forget.
image

The service was mostly in Arabic, but they also provided a worship bulletin in English. We found it easy to follow along, including the Lord’s Prayer and two familiar hymns: All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name and How Great Thou Art. There were at least two other visiting groups (from Denmark and Norway), so there was singing and prayer in at least four languages. Very powerful.
After lunch we connected with Alex and Brenda Awad of Bethlehem Bible College.
image

Alex gave a brief lecture about the College and its ministries in the context of the current situation in Palestine. This is an amazing institution. We were also able to deliver the supplies that folks at FUMC donated, and the college was very grateful and asked us to convey their thanks.
From BBC, we toured the Church of the Nativity,
image

built over the cave believed to be Christ’s birthplace. There was a Greek Orthodox wedding going on,
image

but otherwise very few people were in the church. We sang Silent Night down at the cave and enjoyed some moments free of the bustle and crowds that many of us were expecting.
image

This evening we divided into groups of 4 or 5 and dispersed to the homes of Christian families in Bethlehem for dinner.
image

We were mutually blessed, but the greater blessing was certainly ours. We enjoyed a traditional, Bethlehem home-cooked meal, heard their stories and struggles, got to see a more personal side of the situation here, and saw their very real and very rich faith in action.

This is not the average tour! We have been so blessed, have had such interesting experiences today, and we are seeing so many of our prayers being answered.
image

And it’s only our first full day here!

Advertisements

Posted on January 20, 2013, in Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thank you for your wonderful message! It feels as though I was with you. Don Renshaw said the most beautiful prayer for you all. The whole congregation is praying for you.

    Peace and Grace,
    Linda