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Christmas joy and sadness

Bethlehem

sunny

Merry Christmas! Today we travelled to Bethlehem. We are getting a sense of geography, seeing the proximity of Herodium, the palace where King Herod likely met the Wise Men from the east, to Bethlehem, where the Magi went to worship Jesus at his birth. We climbed down rocks into a first century cave with a manger and prayed and heard the Christmas story and sat in silence. We got new insights into there being “no room in the inn” for the Holy Family — perhaps there was no room in the residential section of the cave so they had to go to the place where the wee animals lived. Later we came to the Church of the Nativity which marks the place of Jesus’s birth with a silver star that has no place in a stable. Humbly we entered through the low low door, first Andrea Harris stooping, then Barbara Hess followed by Jerry. Finally, Karen Licht kneels to touch the bedrock within the silver star, traditionally considered to be the place where the manger stood.

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The Wall is always with us. When we go from Jerusalem to the West Bank, we take passports and go through checkpoints displaying signs that Jews are forbidden to go into this Palestinian land because it is dangerous. When we are in the West Bank we see the wall cutting through a hotel and separating families from each other and keeping Palestinians from their jobs and stopping them from picking their olives. Israel started building the Wall in 2002 and it is nearly complete. It is a combination of 20 foot high cement panels and trenches and electronic fences that separate Israel from Palestine. The original proposal put the Wall along the 1949 armistice Green Line but it extends far beyond that and encompasses a a lot of land the Palestinians think is theirs. Israel generally sees the Wall as expensive ($300 million annually for maintenance) but effective protection against suicide bombers and terrorist attacks, which have decreased drastically since the Wall has been built. The Palestinians are irate at the travel restrictions and especially that the Wall even extends inside Palestine to separate the residents from the Jewish settlers who occupy huge apartment complexes in Palestinian territory - and worse, even separates members of a single Palestinian family from each other. We listen to them all and we fear for them all and we know that we cannot understand one side of this conflict let alone two. So we pray and pray and pray and hope that we never stop caring.

Posted by HopeEakins 07:14 Archived in Israel

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Comments

Your beautiful writing of the experiences you all are having are so heartwarming. I feel almost that I am there with you.

by Gail Berry West

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