December 22, 1999
Now it came about in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.
This was the first census taken while Quirinus was governor of Syria. And all were proceeding to register for the census, everyone to his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem because he was of the house and family of David in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him and was with child.
And she gave birth to her first-born son, and she wrapped him in clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn."
We visited the Church of the Nativity, where the birthplace of Jesus--now called the Grotto of the Nativity-- is located. Jesus was born in a cave on a spot marked by a star (later, of course, he was moved to a manger, next to a stable).
The mass will be special this year, because shortly after the ceremony we will celebrate the coming of the new millennium.
I've been thinking of the hymn that we sing during Christmas called "O Little Town of Bethlehem." The second line in the hymn is "How still we see thee lie."
Now it is under the control of the Palestinian National Authority.
The next line of the song says: "Above thy sweet and dreamless sleep, The silent stars go by." Indeed, the silent stars go by but the sweet and dreamless sleep remains elusive for present-day Bethlehem. One day, we hope... and there are good signs.
Making the short trip back with us were two American college students who had just made their last visit to their host families in Bethlehem. They had come to study the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but in Bethlehem they found families who took them in and whom they became attached to. The students were eager to return to their homes, but part of them remained here in Bethlehem.
- Christine, Monica's mother
Kevin - Theodore Herzl: A Jewish Visionary
Abeja - Nazareth: Trouble Brewing in Jesus' Hometown
Nancy - St. Helena Hits the Spot
Kavitha - The Facts of Fasts
Team - The New Millennium: All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go
Kavitha - Tidings of Comfort and JoyŠand Exploitation: The Buck Stops With You
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