Sunday, October 30, 2011


Going to Bethlehem was incredible!!  I LOVE Christmas!  I start listening to Christmas carols rediculously early and I just love all that goes along with the season, most especially the birth of our Saviour.  I think this stop was one that I looked forward to most of all.  It is a story I have heard all my life and to actually be in the place where it occurred was incredible.  I am already looking forward to celebrating Christmas for the first time after being in the place where Jesus was born.  Amazing!

One thing that surprised me a bit was learning that our tour guide Dan would not be allowed to go with us to Bethlehem.

Bethlehem is controlled by Palestine, so no Israeli citizens are allowed.
The tour company we were with had a Palistinian guide meet us once we got into Bethlehem for our tour.

We stopped for lunch at St. George's restaurant.

I continued my experience of trying every Diet Coke possible.  I think this writing is in Arabic.

Blake and JT

Steve and Leeann

I ordered lamb kebab and it was very good.

After lunch, we journeyed across the courtyard to the Church of the Nativity.  
On our way we passed the Bethlehem Peace Center.

Outside the Church of the Nativity

This was one of the older entrances.

And this was the original entrance of the church built by Helena, Constantine's mother.
This church is the oldest one in the area and I love the story that goes along with it.  The reason this church is the oldest is because many of the other churches built during the early years of Christianity were destroyed by other groups that came in and took over the land at different times throughout history.  On the walls of the Church of the Nativity was a mural of the Magi from the East.  Because of the way they were dressed in the mural, the Persians recognized their own style of dress on the church wall and did not destroy this church.

This door is the current entrance and I will never forget how one of our professors spoke of the appropriateness of bending down to enter the place where our Savior was born.

I just loved this image with the door and the pendant light above.  I think you get a real sense of the age of the church here.

Once inside we waited in line to enter the place down below the current Greek Orthodox church that holds services here.  Actually, several churches meet in this space.  How amazing would it be to come to worship each week in this special location?!

This is the view of the Greek Orthodox section of the church.

A light hanging in the church.

I loved the arch windows

and the beams.

Between the windows are portions of painted frescos.

The frescos on the columns are very old as well perhaps close to original.  I never ceased to be amazed at the incredible history I was walking beside.

The Greek Orthodox church was holding a service as we stood in line.

The incredible detail

Finally, it was our turn to enter the place believed to be where Jesus was born.

This star marks the section where they believe Mary gave birth.

Just across from the star is this other space believed to be the place where she laid him -- the manger.

The artwork above the place where she laid him.

It was a special moment to be in place.

These are murals in the Armenian church section of the building.

These are more murals in the Greek Orthodox portion.

These photos are of Byzantine mosaics.

Here is a map of the church building.

Downstairs below the Catholic portion of the church is the location believed to be the place where the family stayed during their time in Bethlehem.  The above image is of the section called Joseph's chapel.

Below this area is the place believed to be where they buried the babies of Bethlehem and the parents who tried to save them.

Matthew 2:16 (NRSV)
16 When Herod saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, he was infuriated, and he sent and killed all the children in and around Bethlehem who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had learned from the wise men.

Here is the chapel built for the babies of Bethlehem.
Such tragedy

This image is of the guesthouse area.

More images of the guesthouse area

These three stars are Christian symbols.

It is believed that Jerome wrote the Latin Vulgate in these same rooms.

These images are in Jerome's chapel.

This image is of the original entrance.

St. Catherine's Church, the Catholic section of the church building.

A statue of St. Catherine outside the church

A statue of Jerome

St. George

The entrance to Shepherd's Field

Our tour guide, George



mosaic outside

Interior of recreation of shepherd living conditions

Above entrance to shepherd dwelling

Angel outside the entrance to the chapel


Door to chapel

Domed ceiling

Images of the shepherds throughout the nativity story

More of the domed ceiling

Looking out over shepherd's field
It is a very large area of land.

Another thing I was reminded of was that the fields were the same ones where Ruth and Boaz met as she gleaned the leftover grain.

After our visit to Shepherd's Field, we went to a store with lots of wonderful olive wood carvings and jewelry. 

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