Friday, 1 March 2013

Bridges not Walls

Today has been a day of contrasts. We began with shopping at a wonderful Christian co-operative - olive wood, icons, holy water, and olive oil, you name it you could buy it here! Followed rather more apiritually with Communion at the Bethlehem Maternity Hospital. Celebrating Jesus' birth in a place of birth. After a short talk about the hospital, and it's outreach into the desert and to the Bedouin tribes women we walked to the Lutheran centre. The wall loomed large at moments during the day, and this contrasted with the projects undertaken through the Lutheran centre - including leadership training, women's sport and activities for the over 65s. The determination is to build bridges and not walls. After a trip to the shepherds fields and some worship in both the church there and the cave chapel, we queued in the church of the nativity to see the 'place of Christ's birth' below in the crypt. With a surfeit of icons and hanging lamps we heard tales of priests fighting, which ended with us being hassled out of St Catnerine's church (my favourite) so the Roman Cathalic Arabic stations of the cross could begin. My aim is to get down to the crypt later and see the wonderful frescoes of St Jerome's mother and sister. I think some peaceful reflection is required. The Pilgrims are becoming great fun and there is a lovely atmosphere. We leave here tomorrow and set our faces on Jerusalem with a swim in the Dead Sea on the way.

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