Today we are going into Bethlehem. Bethlehem is part of the Palestinian land. To enter Bethlehem from Jerusalem, we had to receive authorization first. Our first order of business was shopping for souvenirs. We went into a wood shop, where the business creates wooden crosses, nativity scenes, and other artifacts. Their operation was impressive.
We soon started our walk uphill towards the Church of the Nativity. This is the site at which Jesus was born. The Church of the Nativity stands in the shadows of a mosque and a shopping center. Inside was a long line of tourists here to pay homage to the birthplace of our Lord. I must admit, I did not quite enjoy this visit. The line was so long such that we could not stop to see, take pictures, much less reflect on the meaning of the incarnation.
We left to go for lunch in the middle of Bethlehem. Fish has been the most popular menu item for us. As with all our other meals, the lunch was delectable and palatable; finger licking good!
Our journey led us to the most anticipated visit – the visit to the wailing wall. The Wailing Wall is a small part of the old Jerusalem Western Wall. As I walked towards the wall, I was overcome by a great sense of the presence of the Lord. This is sacred ground. I saw many people leaning against the wall in various postures of prayer. Everywhere were many devout men wearing black hats, black clothes, and long beards. These pious Jews read the Torah while rocking forwards and backwards, reciting some inaudible words. The sounds were in sync with their movements. It was a beautiful, saintly sight.
I chose an open spot on the wall. I prayed, starting with confession. I had written various prayer requests on small pieces of paper. After I prayed for each person or situation, I would fold the little piece, and then insert it in a crevice in the limestone rock. I prayed for my relationship with God, my family, my friends, ministry, the corps, and many other things God brought to mind.
I did not want to leave. I was in the presence of God. Why leave this Holy moment? Why depart from such a powerful experience? Well, we had to leave. So, I reluctantly left, taking mental pictures of all my eyes could see. I want to keep this sensation, this sacrosanct event alive in my life forever. So help me God!