Bethlehem – Part 1

I love Bethlehem!!! …There I said it.

Jerusalem is fascinating and holy and people from everywhere come here but it’s also a city; busy, noisy and full of tension.

Traffic, light rail, The Holy Sepulchre and the Lutheran Redeemer bell tower

Bethlehem is a city and lots of people come through there but it doesn’t have that busy, noisy feeling of a city. It has the rhythm of a village. I’ve been there twice since I arrived in the Holy Lands and I’m sure I’ll be back a number of times before I go.  It’s only 7 kilometers to the south of Jerusalem.

There is much to say about Bethlehem, the home of Jesus’ nativity birth, but for today I just want to share some of the architectural beauty of the Church of the Nativity.

I’ve heard this Basilica, as it is sometimes called, described as gaudy and overdone. And I’ve heard much speculation about whether this is really the spot where Jesus was born. ‘I mean really, how can we be so certain?’ goes the rationalizing… and maybe we can’t know, maybe we don’t even need to know … exactly where. But I love the place, sure the decorating idea of, “if a little is good, a lot must be great” is a proven philosophy but to me the decoration and adornment speaks much more to the near eastern culture in which and of which it finds itself not to the proof of whether Jesus was born there or not. And I’m OK with following the tradition of this being the spot. If nothing else this “spot” is the oldest continuously operating church in the world, it was commissioned by Emperor Constantine around 326 AD. (Yes it’s been reworked a few times, but its still working…)

For me more than anything the church and the city is a place to go, to revere and to remember the start of a life and an event that changed the world and the hope, I believe, of the world forever. Thank you Jesus, thank you God!

Nativity Church

You can walk from Manger Square or…

— the steps from the nearest street…

you must enter through the door …. the opening has been made smaller through the ages … can you see 3 different door frames?…

The Door of Humility… maybe you’ve been through it a time or two as well?…

once inside you will have much to see… the lower Mosaic floor is from 4th Century Constantine construction…

Everyone wants to see where Jesus was Actually born so you go to the right and follow through this door…

You will find fabulous details…

Maybe even a service happening in the main cathedral….

But I didn’t quite make it to X marks the spot because if I understood the rumors correctly 600 Polish people where in town with their Arch Bishop and he was conducting a service in the Grotto of the Nativity so I decided to come back later…

… and then found that other rumors where true… the crowds will descend and make for a long wait… I think I’ll check it out next time…

Definitely next time…


3 thoughts on “Bethlehem – Part 1

  1. Thanks Sonnee, I’m so glad to hear you say it! When I think about what to post I always try to think about the stories that can be told well and that might somehow resonate with the people who read the blog.

  2. Thanks, Kirsten! I agree with your thoughts on Bethlehem…enjoy your days in that fascinating center of our faith world!

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