Jerusalem & Friends – O Little Town of Bethlehem. Now Think On This by Steve Martin
A short six miles south of Jerusalem in Israel is the town of Bethlehem, or Beit Lechem (House of Bread) as it is properly named in Hebrew. Once a small Jewish town centuries ago, it has now been deemed a town primarily for a majority population of Palestinian Muslims. I have been there several times – first in 1994, before Palestinian rule took over in 1995, and lastly in 2017.
A lot had changed in those decades, and as a result, it isn’t what it once was. The vast majority of Jews and Christians have been forced to leave their once thriving homes in this part of Judea, as the now so-called “West Bank” territorial population rulers do not have the toleration level for others, which is found elsewhere in Israel under the full Jewish government. Let the truth be known.
There no more remain the family shops which once produced the popular olive wood figurines and the like for the vast amount of tourists who used to “flock here” from their international homes. Oh, they still come in numbers, but only under heavy security and other safety precautions that must be taken. After I drove my rented car through Beit Lechem in May, 2017, a Jerusalemite afterward told me that the auto insurance I had would not have covered any damage if it had gotten stoned within the city limits. (If I ever return there by car, I will keep that in mind.)
For my Catholic friends, of which traditions I grew up with, the Mass taking place over the church marked spot, though spoken by the Orthodox priest in another language which I knew not, still carried love and respect for this historical site and the Person whom these call upon. I pray they know Him as their Lord and Savior, the Living God of Israel, and not as one from a story taught from religious traditions, stripped of His true Glory. (Photo by Steve Martin: May 2017 Church of the Nativity, Catholic Mass being said over the believed location of Yeshua’s birth.)