Journey to Israel - Church of the Nativity

One night many years ago, angels surprised simple shepherds. They filled the night sky, proclaiming the news of Jesus’ birth.

“Angels we have heard on high, sweetly singing o’er the plains
And the mountains in reply echoing their joyous strains
Gloria in Excelsis Deo! Gloria in Excelsis Deo!””

After overcoming their awe at the angelic proclamation, the shepherds embarked on a mission. The scruffy, unkempt men headed into town. They were determined to greet the newborn Heavenly King, the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

About six months ago, my husband and I made a similar journey. We traveled from the Shepherds’ Field into the city of Bethlehem to see where Jesus was born.

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Journey to Israel - Shepherds' Field

More than 2,000 years ago, wise men from the east traveled to Israel looking for a new king. For months they traversed the varied landscape, following a special star to the Holy Land. Upon their arrival, they went straight to King Herod’s palace in Jerusalem. After all, a palace is where a king, or even a prince, should live. But the new king was not there.

The chief priests and scribes searched their scrolls and found a prophecy about a great ruler who would be born in Bethlehem:

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
(Micah 5:2)

With this new information, the wise men continued on their journey. They followed the star from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, in search of the new king.

On our own journey to Israel nearly six months ago, we traveled that last leg of the journey to Bethlehem, just as the wise men did so many years ago. Like the wise men, we wondered, “What will we find there?”

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Journey to Israel - Knesset and Giant Menorah

Our tour guide, Mika, had promised our schedule on Friday would be more relaxed. The walking tour of Jerusalem the previous day had worn us out. We were grateful that the bus would carry us to each destination for the rest of our trip.

I was not particularly excited about the morning’s itinerary. We planned to visit the Knesset and giant Menorah, the Israel Museum, and the Yad Vashem museum. These locations paled in comparison to that afternoon’s excursion to Bethlehem. How could the morning’s attractions hold a candle to that?

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Family Christmas Traditions

From where I sit, I can see the lights of the Christmas tree. Festive blankets make our living room furniture seem cozy and inviting. With dreary, rainy weather outside, I’m content to snuggle indoors with my family, watch It’s a Wonderful Life, and sip cider.

The “Christmas spirit” has been slow to arrive this year. Now the lingering colors of fall have finally given way to barren trees and cooler temperatures. It’s starting to look and feel more like Christmas.

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Journey to Israel - Is This Caiaphus' House?

It was hard to believe we had been in the city of Jerusalem for less than a day. Twenty-four hours earlier, we had been driving into the city. Since our arrival, we had seen many biblical sites.

One of the first places we visited in Jerusalem had been the Garden of Gethsemane. Now it was time to walk where the soldiers led Jesus after he was arrested in the Garden. We were on our way to Caiaphus’ house.

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