Today deserves 2 posts because it was such an extraordinary day! This is the first of 2:
We started the morning by heading to Bethlehem. For those that do not know, Bethlehem is in Israel but is under Palestinian control. We had to cross the border from Israel to Bethlehem and go through a security checkpoint.
Once we were in Bethlehem, we parked the buses and walked up to the Church of the Nativity. This Church was built on top of the cave that was the place of Jesus’ birth.
What most westerners do not understand is that the idea of the stable being a barn was created by the Franciscans about 800 years ago because their society could not picture a stable as a cave. There are not enough trees in this part of Israel to build a structure out of wood.
We were given the opportunity to go down into the grotto, or basement, of the Church and into the cave where Mary gave birth to Our Savior. The cave has been encased in marble to protect it, but there is one spot on the floor where you can reach through to touch the original cave floor.
I can’t begin to describe the awe in knowing that you are touching the cave where Christ was born. It was incredible!
Afterwards, we went to the Shepherds’ field. This was the site where the angels appeared to the shepherds and told them they would find the Messiah, “wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” This was broken down for us in a mind-blowing way!
Are you ready for this?
Swaddling cloth was a type of gauze used for wrapping mummies and deceased persons. It was also used by shepherds to wrap the sacrificial lambs that were born. They would catch the lambs in the cloths at birth and wrap them before they touched the ground so they would remain pure for the sacrifice. Jesus was the LAST SACRIFICE who was BORN TO DIE FOR OUR SINS. His parents knew from His conception that He was destined to give His life to save our souls….Mind Blown.