What a change in scenery as we traveled down Highway 90 to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Galilee is lush and green and fertile. As we drove south towards Jerusalem we encountered the desert, brown, rocky and parched. Much different than the American southwest desert where there is some vegetation. Here nothing but brown sand, rocks and the occasional Bedouin driving his goats or sheep to the very sparse patches of grass. We even saw a Bedouin drive his herd through downtown Bethel very near the church of the Nativity.
|Ff you like brown this is your place on earth.|
The church of the nativity is the oldest Christian church in the world constructed in the mid 4th century by The Emperor Constantine’s Mother. This church was built before the Council of Nicaea, before what we believe as Christians was put in writing in the Nicene Creed! I touched the spot where Jesus was born; I touched the manger that is now encased in marble. This cave was huge! You could easily see how it could be used as a stable. Then we went to the Shepherd’s fields. I always thought the shepherds were some distance away, but it is probably only 2 miles.
The Church of the nativity was touching. But the highlight of the day came after our dinner at the hotel. At 6:45PM 4 of us walked to the Wailing Wall. We went in a pouring rain as the Muslims were being called to evening prayer. We passed through the metal detectors; saw a group of female Israeli Army women who were the guards for the night. They looked to be between 18 and 21 and were armed with M16s. It was a strange mixture of femininity and violence. We approached the wall in the pouring rain and had it all to ourselves! Well almost. It was just 4 United Methodist preachers and one Jew praying at the wall. My friend Andy and I had the same experience when touching the wall. It was like a small electrical charge ran through us. I did not want to let go. I prayed for those that are so sick at Tate. Mimi Jo, Dee, and Bernie. Andy and I decided we would go back every night.
|The Birthplace of Jesus|
Then we walked around the Temple Mount and saw one of the few undisputed places of Jesus’ Ministry. The Teaching Steps, the steps from which Jesus taught in the Temple. I witnessed the old convent on one side of the Temple Mount and the new on the other side. I witnessed both, in one sacred night, in the pouring rain, in Jerusalem. Tonight Jeremiah 31:33 become more than words, it came alive, truly the Living Word of God: "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
There is no doubt the Spirit of God is in this place.
Sorry, no pictures of the wailing wall. It was raining too hard to use the camera