It was a Sunday, so we had the opportunity to attend a local fellowship. Though I could understand nothing and was busy thinking warm thoughts because I feared my extremities might give into frostbite, I loved getting to worship with the local believers in town. Listening to people worship in their heart language is just awesome and it gives a small picture of what it will look like when “a great multitude that no one can number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'” (Rev 7:9-10).
Afterwards, we loaded up and headed to Manger Square…where we, of course, had falafel and hummus for lunch!
Some of the gang in front of the tree and nativity.
Frying up goodness.
The Church of the Nativity. It is considered to be the oldest, continually operating Christian church in the world. This church sits atop the cave that is said to be the birthplace of Jesus.
This silver star is over the grotto (cave) where Jesus was born. You can actually touch the rock. Some choose to kiss it. A nun actually cut me off as I was going to touch it, so she could kiss the rock. True story. The nuns and monks on this trip sure seemed to have it out for us!
This is where the Midnight Mass is held of Christmas Eve. It was closed when we came to visit, but we were told it would be standing room only!
There are buildings around, but you still can get a feel for what it would have been like for those shepherds. I don’t really know what I pictured when Luke said “And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night”…but I don’t think it looked so rocky. I always envisioned a nice, easy place to let your sheep graze. This was by no means an easy place to hang out with sheep.
“And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11)
“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!'” (Luke 2:13-14)
“When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:15-16)
We headed down to another city to a glass-blowing factory. The route we ended up on was not the one intended. But, it gave us an incredible view of the countryside and allowed us to meet some super friendly guys, who made sure we made it to our destination. When you read in the Word of all that happened during the times of the kings, when David was fleeing from Saul, etc…this is what they had to maneuver through and around. Being able to see the geography of a place really makes the stories come to life! It’s just cool.
If you can’t have Starbucks…well then, Stars & Bucks is the next best thing!!