When we visited Bethlehem a few years ago, I was struck by two things: First, while visiting the Church of the Nativity was a moving experience, it lost some of its luster when you emerged to the crass commercialism on Manger Square and in the neighborhoods around it. Second, when we visited Shepherds’ Field a couple miles outside the city, I was surprised to find myself caught up in the story of the shepherds and the appearance of the angel to them heralding the birth of Jesus.
True, there was also commercialism there, but it was not as profound – and I felt a great reverence when we stepped out onto the hillside that purportedly was the one on which the shepherds tended their flocks on that momentous night.
Looking to Bethlehem from Shepherds’ Field The Angels’ Chapel
(Photos by Dan Jorgensen)
Looking out toward Bethlehem in the distance and stopping at the beautiful chapel erected on the site from which it is said the angel appeared left me with a belief that we can, indeed, have hope for humankind, despite the many bad things happening around our world each day.
I thought, too, of this quote by Lucinda Franks, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for the New York Times, who wrote this about her own visit to Bethlehem: “Christmas in Bethlehem. The ancient dream: a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love.”
Hope for the world still abounds, and especially Shepherds’ Field left me with the feeling that we are still okay.
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