We were packed in like sardines. Literally. Waiting in ”line” wasn’t so bad even though it stretched the length of The Church of the Nativity (at least twice the length of Messiah if not more) and was very fluid with people coming and going at all points along the way (that’s why I put ”line” in quotes. It only resembled a line because it moved en masse to the site for where they say Jesus was born.). I think I heard every language spoken in that line, which has been typical for every site we’ve visited. That mass had to fit through a doorway meant for only one then through another doorway before getting a chance to kneel for a moment and pray with thanksgiving for the birth of our Savior. Kneel. Place your hand in the center of the star. Give thanks. For all the elaborate decoration around the sanctuary it’s the star on the floor that everyone wants to see.
We also saw stars when we visited Yad VaShem, The Holocaust Museum, yellow stars worn by Jews in Nazi Germany. No photos were allowed and neither would you want to take any. The indignities, the horrors, the unbridled hate. How could we let it happen? Before I came to Israel I watched Ken Burns’ documentary on The U.S. and the Holocaust and discovered much of the political maneuverings of the how behind what happened. No one wanted war. WWI was the war to end all wars. With the rise of Hitler and the Nazis it was on our doorstep again. How could peace be negotiated without another war? … In a different but just as critical way I wonder if it’s on our doorstep again. We must pray and pray fervently that peace be restored and not at the expense of a people. God’s hand is mighty to save. Pray.
The first star of the day (yes, I am writing this out of order) was when a group of us decided to go the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and try to get into the epicule that sits over the place where Jesus was laid after His crucifixion. The day before had a line as long as if not longer than Nazareth. The church was empty but for a few who had come to pray. It was 5:30am. The brothers and monks who live there were already singing their chants of praise, the incense … billows of goodness rising with their prayers. All holiness. We entered without any hindrance and prayed at this star. You my friends have all been lifted in prayer for God’s goodness and favor to fill your life that you may flourish and all His purposes for you be fulfilled. Amen and amen.
Another star yet to come tomorrow.
PS – Bethlehem has everyone beat on year-round Christmas decorations.