This morning I was thinking about how blessed I am to be in Jerusalem on Sabbatical. Many Christians are a paying a huge price for faithfulness. For me it has been mostly blessings -- one after another. What has following Jesus cost me? Mostly my pain and trouble, my guilt and shame, my disappointments and sorrow. It has cost me some freedom to choose things -- things that would have hurt me if I had continued in that path. What has being a Christian cost you? Ponder about that. Reply to this blog if you like. This video shows the place where Christian tradition holds that Stephen, the first Christian Martyr shared his faith and paid the price. See John 5.
A serene oasis in the Holy City. Tantur is set on a hill -- overlooking Bethlehem.
Tantur is set on a hill in the south of Jerusalem overlooking Bethlehem. The panorama is spectacular.
The first Church of the Nativity was finished in 339 AD. This Byzantine church was damaged during the Samaritan uprising in 529 and the Emperor Justinian ordered it torn down and rebuilt. It was restored by the Crusaders in1165. After Saladin's re-conquest of the Holy Land the building fell into disrepair. The Ottoman Turks plundered the building for materials used in the Dome of the Rock. An earthquake (1834) and a fire In 1869 took their toll. In continuous use throughout all this -- the building desperately needed restoration. Finally the communities have agreed to repairs to this sacred space. My video shows the mosaic work in the clearestory of the nave (upper walls in the main body of the church.) My sound quality is not all that good but you get the idea. People who visit Bethlehem now see far more of the beauty of this beautiful church than at any time since the 17th C.