“Oh, little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie.”
The city our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born.
To tell my friends and family that our mission team would be staying in a motel, an actual “Inn” in Bethlehem, was surreal. The same city who had no room for a young pregnant woman to give birth to her child, a child that would be called the King of Kings.
The five mile stretch from Jerusalem to Bethlehem is no longer the dusty trail it was over 2,000 years ago. Today drivers trek their way slowly, yet hastily through a congested swarm of traffic.
In order to exit Bethlehem and enter Jerusalem, all vehicles must stop at a security checkpoint guarded by Israeli soldiers.
And there’s a well-spoken conversation with horns that last well into the night.
One tap of the horn means: “Watch out! I’m right here.”
Two taps mean: “Hurry up.” or “Get out of my way!”
And the extended persistent blaring of the horn means you are being insulted with an offensive use of language.
Our impressive bus driver, Ramadan, took charge of every road we traveled. It was as if he had his own special rules and cars would move to make room for him. I guess I would too if I were a little car. It would be hopeless to win an argument against Ramadan’s giant tour bus.
Pictures of Christmas scenes in Bethlehem are all similar. Can you picture Mary and Joseph traveling the distance to Bethlehem? Mary, great with child, and riding on a donkey. Joseph, protectively watching over Mary. One of my favorite scenes from “The Nativity Story” is while Mary sleeps, Joseph takes the largest portion of his own food he tucked away and shares with the donkey to ensure the animal has enough strength to get them to Bethlehem.
In anticipation of visiting the world-known birthplace of The Messiah, I visualized the descriptions I had imagined my entire life. But there was no wooden manger or straw, and there were no gentle animals. Instead the site is inside a church, in a dark corner. Of course, there’s plenty of places mentioned in the Bible in Israel that are now hidden by buildings where you have to look beneath the surface to picture the magnificence of what was once there. Seeking out the history of the birthplace, the home, and the mission of our Lord to give us everlasting life is similar to searching God’s Word and finding hidden treasure between the pages.
On this particular scene, the Scripture’s account is the portrayal I’ll envision from that wondrous night.
Have a blessed day,