Monday I had a great time with my friends in Bethlehem. No, not Bethlehem Pennsylvania. I was actually with friends in the place where Jesus was born.
At the top of Star Street at the offices of Holy Land Trust, I looked out over the same valley Jesus must have seen, albeit a little more populated and with a lot more concrete.
The purpose of the visit: to help The KIVU Gap Year kids on their tour of the Holy Land, and visit with my friends in the area.
It was amazing to watch the students walk down Star Street through Manger Square and to listen to our guide take us through the history surrounding the Church of the Nativity. For the locals, it must seem like an every day church on the corner; but, for American students it was a look into the halls of faith history.
“Can you believe Jesus was born right there?” I asked as we stood over the 14 point star on the floor in the church’s grotto.
2000 years ago right in this very place, a man was born that would change the way the world works.
His message of drawing people back to relationship with God and learning to love one another in a culture fixated on power and position.
He called us to love our enemies, take careful inventory of how we live our lives, and reach out to the marginalized in every culture.
He wasn’t about a show.
He didn’t come to equate himself with God, but humbly submit himself to the will of God.
He chose to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and give us a guide to live the life God intended when He created all of humanity.
I was moved, looking over the city later that night. Every time I visit the Holy Land I feel this incredible sense of God’s presence.
Recent events haven’t allowed that presence to be felt around the globe. But when you stand in a spot where Jesus might have stood, there’s something surreal that comes up on you. It makes me want to study more of Jesus. It makes me want to live more like Jesus. It compels me to share that sense of belonging with everyone I encounter. And I’m happy to report there are students who are experiencing that very same journey.
They will be heading to more holy sites in the coming days, and I’m praying that God would reveal Himself to be real, attainable, and worthy of the student’s attention as they grow in wisdom and favor with Him.
If you’ve never experienced a trip like this, you need to put it on your bucket list. It’s encouraging to those of us in faith circles to build up our faith, and see the message of Jesus in a whole new light.
O Little Town of Bethlehem, thank you for giving me another sense of worthiness this week.