Our Holy Land Pilgrimage 2016 continues and for now all are well and things have gone very smoothly for us.  Today is the Armenian Christmas and we are so blessed to be in Bethlehem, staying right next to the Church of the Nativity.

Holy Land 2016 manger square

But I wanted to catch you up on a few days.  First a group shot at the Church of the Beatitudes.  The nun standing next to me is from Iraq.  She traveled with us for this day.  She is in exile here after her convent was run out by ISIS.  Her story is amazing, and so prevalent for so many in this region right now.

Holy Land 2016 group

We left the Galilee on Sunday but not before a visit to Christ Church, Nazareth where we have gone to church now for three straight years. They are beginning to know us and we them and it is feeling like home.  I was asked to preach by the Rector and so I did.  As usual a joyful experience.  You may remember there is a member of this congregation named Mary who lived in our diocese for 30 plus years and retired from work on UW.  She moved back to Nazareth, her home town, several years ago.  It was so good to see her!

 

 

In Bethlehem on this day we visited the Shepherd’s Field and we sang in the beautiful church there.

I also asked the Rev. John Forman, Rector of St. Elizabeth’s, Burien about his experiences as a pilgrim so far

We then traveled to St. John’s Hospital and especially to visit the ministry of the Creche.  This is run by French Nuns and other Palestinian Christians.  They take in Muslim babies who have been abandoned.  This is an amazing place and always one of the highlights for our tour.  It tears at your heart and inspires you to be a better follower of Christ all at the same time.

We left there and traveled the short distance to Bethlehem University to eat lunch with and then hear from Christian and Muslim students there.  This too is always an inspiration and a challenge.

From there, back to the Church of the Nativity.  Beautiful service.  Here, you can listen a bit!

So, Merry Christmas from Bethlehem!

+Greg