This is His story; this is our song…

Bethlehem, the city where Jesus was born, the place where the shepherds lived, the first to give the message of his arrival into the world. Today, it is a city of surprises. Our hotel is very close to Manger Square and at 7.00am it was slowly coming to life. The coffee shops were open, selling breakfast, the ATM machines were mainly closed (which was a problem as received Jordanian dinar!), but the sky was blue, and it felt good.

The Church of the Nativity

The Church of the Nativity, Manger Square

We entered through the narrow door and heard the story of the camels which were pushed through! A long story, so maybe later… Many, many lights and baubles and incense and we queued for a while to go to the place where they think Jesus was born. It was quite elaborate and a special place. We then held Morning Prayer in a beautiful courtyard outside, reading the Christmas story from Luke’s gospel.

The Church of the Nativity, Manger Square – interior

The Shepherds’ Fields

The Shepherd Fields

High on the hills the shepherds fields were spotted with wonderful red anemones. The view across the valley beyond was impressive, apart from the settlement on the other side. We had a beautiful Eucharist outside overlooking the valley, and Bishop Jonathan spoke about the shepherds being the first to have the news of Jesus birth and their feelings of fear of the angel, a sense of awe, and their courage as lowly shepherds, to be the first to tell the news.

Bethlehem University

A beacon of hope and an oasis of peace. A Catholic university in Bethlehem where all feel welcome, especially Muslim students. The students talked about their lives and how many things they have to manage to be at university in Bethlehem as Palestinians, whether Christian or Muslim.

Gathered at Bethlehem University

It was clear that their friendships knew no borders and they loved and respected each other. There is hope for the future!

Faith, learning and shelter…
Rev’d Sue Martin