We drive from Jerusalem to the West bank & the border checkpoint of Palestine, the entry into Bethlehem. On entering we see a complete cultural change, gone are the clean streets & pale buildings now we see scruffy streets with graffiti covered walls.
Bethlehem a name we all grew up with,but as a child what I imagined was nothing like this, I also thought these biblical names were just fictional,yet here I was X years later not only in the ‘little town ‘ but also at Christmas & about to see the manger !


Eventually arriving in a hotel carpark with a hotel which looks more like the buildings in Jerusalem, we disembark, walk to Manger square & into the Church of the Nativity.
This church has magnificent mosaic floors,stain glass windows & huge pillars all with paintings on the upper half but barely visible through the grime,the lower sections cleaned only by people brushing against them as they queue to get into the crypt. People of all nationalities behind us in the queue,fortunately we were there early.
Painted Pillars in need of a clean.


When we emerged lights were on & security in place awaiting Mahoud Abbas who came to the same church for Mass,yes MASS, was this mentioned by the BBC ?
We only saw his cavalcade, including a vehicle housing some very sinister armoury at a guess.


Manger

We walked back to the hotel where we alighted the coach,this was to be our place for dinner.
I could not begin to describe the fun we had that evening, the host looked every bit an Arab but I feel sure he was a Christian because he entertained, fed & ‘watered’ us royally, even providing a father Christmas who gave us all presents.
When the meal ended sweetmeat goodies just kept on coming
It was a hoot from start to finish.


Signs of Christianity everywhere.
Passing through the checkpoint on our return, I saw a female security officer walking towards us & climb aboard the bus & immediately I knew what her reaction would be, sure enough she took one look at 25 people wearing Father Christmas hats & beat a hasty retreat….no doubt convinced this was a new red hat religious sect . LoL !!!
At midnight many of us went to the Cathedral church Nablus rd in Jerusalem for the midnight service & sang our hearts out. 😉

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