Day 6, Sunday (Father’s Day) June 16, 2109

Bethlehem: means “house of bread” in Hebrew. For this to be the birth place of Jesus, “the bread of life,” seems fitting. It is also a West Bank or Palestinian city today with a population of about 25,000 people located about 6 miles south of Jerusalem. It is surrounded by a 20ft. wall and home to the Church of the Nativity, built upon the site attributed to Jesus’ birth. Here we visited the Lutheran Church where we had lunch were allowed to worship in their sanctuary later in the afternoon. We heard of the great ministry and history of this congregation. We also visited the Shepherd’s Field – the place attributed to the Angel’s annunciation to the Shepherds“living in the fields, watching their flocks by night.” We had time to shop in Bethlehem for great Olive Wood nativity sets, ornaments, jewelry and other handcrafted items. Finally, we went to the Church of the Nativity where one has to stoop to enter, so that all bow before the Lord. Here we visited the very place believed to be the place where Jesus was born. Read Luke 2:1-20, Matthew 2, and John 7:40-43. From the O.T. read Micah 5:2-5, I Samuel 16, and the book of Ruth. The day started out with seeing the sunrise over the Dead Sea. The highlight for me was worshipping in the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem. I had brought a set of communion ware from St. Luke to use for communion today. I was worried about breaking the set but one of the altar guild women said, “Ya, but what if you don’t? Then we’ll have a set that has been to the Holy Land and worshipped in the Lutheran Church in Bethlehem.” Pretty powerful! Even walking the streets of Bethlehem in the midst of the hustle and bustle, craziness of drivers amidst pedestrians, hearing the Muslim call to prayer, church bells ringing (Christian call to prayer/worship), that was quite an experience. We ended at our hotel in Jerusalem. Jerusalem! That too was an overwhelming sight. The first sighting was coming up from Jericho after hearing of the Valley of the Shadow of Death, the mugging of the Good Samaritan along that path, coming through the tunnel and then seeing the Temple Mount and Dome of the Rock for the first time. The next couple of days will be sensory overload (as if it hasn’t been already).

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