The day began with a journey into Bethlehem. Just seeing the rather imposing fence separating Israelis and Palestinians filled me with sadness and made me wonder when peace would come to the land in which the Prince of Peace was born.
Sadness turned to awe upon entering into the Church of the Nativity. I was unprepared for the rush of emotions I experienced as I looked around the ancient church, originally built by St. Helena in the fourth century, and went down to the cave to touch the spot where Christ was born. The facial expressions and the teary eyes of my colleagues let me know I was not the only one overwhelmed by the experience.
Once we returned the Jerusalem, we headed to the Old City to walk the Via Dolorosa, ending at the Church Holy Sepulchre (below). It was a cool, rainy day in Jerusalem, but that seemed appropriate given the events of the afternoon. After walking along the narrow, winding streets of the Old City and meditating on the events leading up to Jesus' death, I know the Stations of the Cross will have a deeper meaning for me. It was a powerful day.
Tuesday we visit several churches and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem, including the Garden of Gethsemane and Dormition Abbey. I will post an update here at OSV Daily Take, and you can follow me at @shayesOSV.