Sunday in Bethlehem
We started Sunday by going to Bethlehem, a scant 6 km. from Jerusalem, but a world away. Bethlehem is now part of the West bank, a Palestinian territory. We had to cross through that infamous, enormous cement wall to get inside.
we went into one of many caves used by shepherds as sheep-folds in the time of Jesus
The Bethlehem Lutheran Church
We worshiped with Arabic Christians (I hope you take some time with that phrase and let it sink in: Christians who are Arabs) who worship in Arabic. The Lutheran church in Bethlehem was built in the 19th century, neo-gothic design. There, we celebrated the 22nd anniversary of one of the pastors on our pilgrimage, Mary.
After lunch we visited the Dheisheh Palestinian refugee camp which is a dense warren of overcrowded streets originally built as temporary emergency housing to the thousands of Palestinians who had to flee as the Israeli’s took control in 1948. There has been no solution since that time. This is not a pretty picture. I put a link in this subtitle to the Wikipedia page that has the basic information about this camp. The UN site also has more.