Bethlehem and Jerusalem

Sunlight shinning down on Jesus’ empty tomb at the Church
of the Holy Sepulcher
After breakfast, we took a bus to the Church of the Nativity, which is built over the site traditionally held as Jesus’ birthplace. It was amazing to see people from all over the world that traveled so far to catch a glimpse of this sacred space.  Next we traveled to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which houses both Golgotha (crucifixion site) and the now empty tomb Jesus once laid in.  I expected visitors would be moving through the church in quite reverence, contemplating how the events that transpired here had so profoundly affected their lives; this was not the case.  The church was crowed, hot, and filled with people jostling each other to reach the narrow entrances to the historic and sacred sites. Initially, our group was consistently bypassed and pushed aside by others due to our hesitation in joining the fray.  However, after about 20 minutes of being stuck in the same place, most of us rolled up our sleeves, jumped in, and pushed our way to the sites while a few decided with wasn’t worth it and waited outside. During a discussion, later that day, one of my classmates likened our experiences in the church, to life.  Frustrated by seeing others get ahead of us, we sometime succumb to the pressures of the world and behave in less than honorable ways in order to keep up with everyone else.  A counter point to this is Jesus. His refusal to deviate from his beliefs and ideals resulted in ridicule, suffering, and eventually death.  However, his choices were eventually vindicated by both the resurrection and the miraculous birth and continuation of a Church that, at its best, helps inspire and move the world towards wholeness.

Inscription at Golgotha; crucifixion site

Guess American football is big in Jerusalem

On rooftop with Nazareth in the background

Everyone has to eat

Bell tower at the Church of the Nativity

Pilgrims waiting to enter site of Jesus’ birth

Scarred guard tower at wall separating the 
West Bank and Israel

Near namesakes of so many churches

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