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Pilgrimage Blog: Day 7

By January 25, 2023January 26th, 2023No Comments

From Sue Bennett

On day 7 our group of pilgrims left early for Bethlehem. We started our day visiting the Shepherd’s Field where the shepherds kept watch over their flocks.

There are many walls dividing this city and separating its people. The separation walls were built by the Israeli government to keep Palestinians out of Israel and segregated in the West Bank. But then Israel builds settlements on the tops of the hills in the West Bank, some that are illegal, with no way to stop them. Palestinians can’t travel freely, work in Israel without a permit or even fly out of the airport in Tel Aviv. They have to go to Jordan. As tourists we are able to move freely between areas, although we have been through several security checkpoints.

As Nelson Mandela said in quote painted on a section of the wall, “We know all too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of Palestinians.”

Our next stop was the Church of the Nativity, the oldest church in Christendom built by Constantine in 326 AD.

The birthplace of Jesus is marked by a 14 sided star that signifies 14 generations going back to Abraham. After touching the star we gathered nearby in the tomb of Jerome to pray and sing. Singing Silent Night in a tomb next to the place where Jesus was born brought me to tears. 

Lunch was at a fabulous Palestinian restaurant where the owner Ruth greeted us as we enjoyed falafel and shawarma. We then had a free afternoon to explore the old city. 

Before dinner we had a fascinating talk on the Muslim perspective of living in Israel. Our speaker asked to us to be on the side of justice in this complicated country. We ended the day with evening prayer. Always so much to be grateful for and always so much to pray for.

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