Our trip to Israel

Bethlehem

Shepherd's field outside Bethlehem. This is the most likely place for the shepherd's to have been watching their flocks on that first Christmas Eve when they saw the heavenly chorus of angels singing praises to the new born king. This also may be where David was tending his flock when Samuel came to anoint him king.

The Church of the Nativity is the oldest church in Christendom. It was originally build in the sixth century but completely altered by the Crusaders. The door way is so small you have to duck your head to get in it. It is owned jointly by the Greek, Roman and Armenian churches.

Somehow my notes don't agree with the written material I have. My notes say that this mosaic floor inside the church is believed to be from the 4th century. In talking about the church, we were told that this is the only church that was not destroyed by the Persian invaders. The reason? It is said that there was a mosaic of the three wise men wearing Persian dress visiting the Holy Infant.

This picture was taken in the Grotto over the cave where Jesus is believed to have been born. Sam snapped it during an Armenian worship service turning the flash off and holding the camera over his head. The room was filled with incense and people as visitors passed through, quietly and reverently and the worshipers chanted their prayers.

The shops around Manger Square offer all shapes and varieties of nativity scenes ranging from ones that will fit in your hand to life sized carving. The prices range from "One dollar American" up into the thousands. Bethlehem is an Arab city under the Palestinian National Authority. They are undergoing major improvements to get ready for the expected crowds in 2000.

We visited a hospital in Bethlehem. This hospital also takes children under the age of 8 years old to raise when their parents can't take care of them. They said that many times when the children reach the age of 7 or 8, the parents are in a better place financially to care for the children. We were allowed to play with, hold and even feed the children when we visited.

After enjoying a instructive Messianic Passover Haggadah, our guide/teacher from Biblical Resources demonstrated what an actual cross during the first century Roman period would have looked like and how the crucifixion would have been carried out. The gardens and mock-ups at the Bible Center bring out the cultural context of the times of the Bible.

This picture was taken at Biblical Resources in Ein Karem. It is a replica of a sheepfold with an open doorway. When Jesus says, "I am the gate for the sheep." This is what he is talking about. There is no gate for the opening of the sheepfold. When night comes and the sheep are led back to the fold, the shepherd sits in the opening and sleeps leaning against one side with his legs blocking the other side.

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