Mt Nebo – Jerusalem – Bethlehem

It’s 5 o’clock in Bethlehem here on the West Bank and I’ve just been woken up by the Call to Prayer sounding out from a nearby mosque. This is in so many ways the Holy Land.

Yesterday another 7 am start as we headed off from Amman firstly to nearby Madaba where we spent time at a historic Greek Orthodox church- famous for it’s mosaic-tyled map of the Holy Land. The map – laid out on the floor of this church dates back to the first millenium after Christ.

From there we drove to nearby Mt Nebo, firstly via a shop/workshop where local mosaic artisans were at work. Mt Nebo is the site from which Moses looked out on the Promised Land before him. And while misty what a sight it was – looking down on the Jordan Valley 1000s of meters below. Of course Moses never quite made it there- dying before Joshua would lead the children of Israel over the Jordan.

Our tour leader invited me to offer some reflective words with our group high up on the mountain there – I reflected about how there’s always something more in life that god has in store for us; just when we think we are “there”, new vistas appear before us. I also ruminated on Moses’ situation – after leading God’s people almost to the finish line, he needed to hand over things to Joshua. We are part of God’s bigger picture- each a part to play.

From there on to the Allenby Bridge where we crossed over into Israel. Took 90 min-2 hours before through the final checkpoint/passport control. A very clear indicator of the history and tensions that exist in this part of the world.

Meeting up with our Israeli tour guide Nasser, we drive to and through Jerusalem. It’s a long highway drive up the mountain to this holy city. Gives new understanding of ‘ascending’ to Jerusalem. Before long we see a stark indicator of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict – this high and long wall – separating West Bank Palestinians from West Jerusalem. “sad” is not the word.

Our hotel is the Nativity Bells Hotel – nothing flash but fine. A quick checkin and we hot-foot it to the nearby Church of the Nativity – understood as Jesus’ birthplace. Alas – and after much huffing and puffing from Dale and me, we arrive just as they are closing the doors. Try again 6 in the morning – we say. Back to the hotel for a relaxing evening – the first ‘unwind’ night of the tour. Besides, a chance to use the free wifi and post things like this

David

(PHOTOS TO FOLLOW)

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