Sneak preview of Christian television in Bethlehem

Well, last year I was ready to fly home and see family for Christmas.   I am trying to pack in getting lots of things done before going, in particular, getting someone to check my mailbox and pay any bills, buy presents, host a party at my house with some of my other single friends for shabbat.

In addition to that, I wanted to meet up with my friend Peter Friedlander who is a photographer and video producer, he was at my church which runs a training school for students looking to enhance the work of the Christian ministry they work for by producing video content.    Once qualified, Peter has used his skills to do video work for a Arab ministry to witness to people in Bethlehem, Jesus’s birth town which today is a bustling Arabic city which is controlled by the Palestinian Authority.

As tourism is probably the life blood of the economy of Bethlehem, of course you will see more Christmas decorations out in the street than anywhere else in this part of the world, however just like commercialised western Christmas there maybe little in common with celebrating the birth of the Jewish Messiah, regardless of what time of the year he may of arrived, and more like a giant Woolworths in the middle east. 🙂

http://peterfriedlander.org/no-room-for-christ-in-bethlehem/

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Jericho – 3. Church on the cliff

The must see place in Jericho is this:

An ancient church built on the side of the cliffs, not only that, which looks like a spectacular feat of construction of making it staying it up, but also its the likely place where Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days.

We didn’t use the cable car, it looks fun but we had already followed the signs to the place to this car park.  The cable car looks like it runs about a couple of kilometres away.

About half a millisecond after this picture was taken, I need to sharply remove my elbow as I realised this sign had got red hot from being the view of the sun from the 43c or so heat that day!

Me with Jeremy, after climbing up these steps during midday heat of the desert were dripping with sweat.

After a being a bit disappointed when getting to the big black door behind us which was locked, I thought I would knock it just for curiosity, and we were just about to leave when an Arab gentleman asked us to come in.

A Byzantine monastry was built in the 4th century, the present monastery of the Temptation was reconstructed at the end of the 19th Century, in the impressive impossibily standing place you see now.

In the hallway just inside the gate of the church, noticed this plant on the windowsill was covered in a newspaper that is in Greek, unusual, as I see newspapers in French and Russian, as well as Hebrew, Arabic and English of course, but never Greek before, but a reminder of the Greek Orthodox church who currently run this place.

This is like no other church I have ever seen!

Through another door way there was the chapel itself, not a lot of space at all for a congregation, but the painted ceilings were joined perfectly with the natural rock formation of the cliff, not sure how often cracks or other structural problems happen, but its an amazing place!

The man told us we were not allowed to take pictures inside for some reason, so sadly I can’t show the insides of the chapel.

Some scriptures showing this site:-

Luke 4 : 1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry.  

3 The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.”

 4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”

 5 The devil led him up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7 If you worship me, it will all be yours.”

 8 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”

 9 The devil led him to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. 10 For it is written:

   “‘He will command his angels concerning you
   to guard you carefully;
11 they will lift you up in their hands,
   so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”

 12 Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

 13 When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.

Next, more exciting places up on the cliff!

1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world2. Jericho’s town centre3. Church on the cliff4. View of Jericho’s plain –  5. The tree

Jericho – 1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world

Heading to Jericho which is in Palestinian territories is only 40km from Jerusalem, This ancient city is somewhere I had always wanted to visit, and scouring the internet seems to not have much in the way of safety recommendations but seems popular with all kinds of visitors to the holyland, as some good friends from the UK were over it was a good chance to take a jolly over and investigate the oldest still inhabited city in the world….

After driving through an Israeli checkpoint, no action is needed as you only get ID’ed on the way out, so its just a case of driving slowly past a kiosk, a bit further is another checkpoint, just some concrete barriers and two soldiers from the Palestinian government who just asked for passport from my friend who was driving.

This picture was taken some distance away, and this is the best zoom I could do, as for obvious reasons I don’t want to be found taking pictures of any kind of checkpoint crossing anywhere!!   Seeing uniformed soldiers with their lapels in Arabic with Palestinian symbols was quite scary for a minute there!

I came to the city trying not to have any preconceived ideas, I have been to Bethlehem and passed through a few small Palestinian towns and also visited Arab Israeli cities like Nazareth and Akko.

This corner shop was the first business we came to.   CocaCola is a brand you find everywhere in the world, especially in this corner of the world and I remember somewhere, one of the Arab nations were trying to make an equivalent Cola drink for the middle east market.

This part of the West Bank is quite odd, there are old and new parts of Palestinian society together.   For instance, there are run down looking houses, factories and farms, and there are large overhead gantries over the main road advertising technology and home furnishing trade conventions.

This sign is for Jawwal, a Palestinian mobile phone operator.

This concrete wall, isn’t a separation barrier, or any kind of border, seems to be a fortified car park for police vehicles, it does look unfinished with unrendered concrete looking like just as a imposing as the wall I see next to Bethlehem about 3-4 miles from my house.  Maybe its inspired by the ancient walls of Jericho…

Next: to Jericho’s city centre!

1. Crossing into the oldest city in the world2. Jericho’s town centre3. Church on the cliff4. View of Jericho’s plain –  5. The tree