Christmas in Bethlehem 2020

Why did I spend five days in Bethlehem?

Most Holy Land tours spend only a few hours in Bethlehem. There are a few common reasons for this. Since 2002, Bethlehem is behind an Israeli “security” wall, and many people do not think it’s safe to spend a lot of time in Bethlehem.

I spent five days in Bethlehem, hosted by the and guides because a few thousand Palestinian Christians are calling us not to forget them behind these walls, not to let the birthplace of Jesus Christ to be walled off, forgotten, and both the Palestinian Christians and Muslims oppressed by Israeli security concerns.

Why did I spend five days in Bethlehem?

1. Learn stories of scripture rooted in Israel/Palestine

As I walk the sites of Israel and Palestine, I’ll be sharing with you the biblical connections, stories of the characters and places.

In the Bible, there are eight plus one associated with Bethlehem. Why do I say eight plus one? This excellent article, “Eight Biblical Characters Associated with Bethlehem” by Shepherd Tours names eight, but we could add a ninth, Mary. Though she was not from Bethlehem, Mary is closely associated as the one who gave birth to our Lord Jesus Christ in Bethlehem.

Read More: Eight Biblical Characters Associated with Bethlehem

2. Hear stories of Palestinian Christians, Palestinian Muslims, and Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs

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I’ll tell many stories, but this first story is from a Jewish man named Rami Elhanan, who lost his fourteen year old daughter to a suicide bomber.

Read More: Story of Rami Elhanan

3. Bring back those stories to The Journey

In order to help prepare Journey members for pilgrimage back to Israel-Palestine in June 2020, I am bringing back these biblical stories and current stories of Palestinians and Israelis who are seeking peace, justice, and love in the land where Jesus was born.

Resources to Prepare for Pilgrimage

Yossi Klein Halevi, At the Gates to the Garden of Eden: My favorite book in preparation for Israel-Palestine trip, a story about a Jewish journalist who defied Israeli law and entered Palestinian areas in order to learn the ways of Christianity and Islam and pray with practicing Christians and Muslims.

Elias Chacour, Blood Brothers and We Belong to the Land: One of the mentors who prepared us for visiting Palestine and Israel is Elias Chacour, bishop of the Malekite Christian Church. We were honored to meet Chacour during the trip. The Siraj Center was our host as we walked 40 miles in Israel and Palestine in 10 days. Omar Harami, director of Sabeel and publisher of this web site, told a story about how their community reads scripture and seeks to do what it says. When they read Luke 3:10-11, they asked, “who has two coats,” and after a few days they had seven truck loads of coats for Palestinian refugees.

Kairos Document: A commitment for churches to join in rising up and being “pro-humans” and not pro-Israel or pro-Palestinians. Seeking non-violent justice, peace, and love for all humans in Palestine and Israel.


Greg Taylor preaches for The Journey and is a doctoral student at Phillips Theological Seminary (PTS), one of the key sponsors of the trip. Heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to PTS and our professor for this class and director of the DMin program, Kathy McCallie, and to Janet and Jeff Wright, tour coordinators, and Ibrahim S. Jaber, our guide for the 10-day trip.

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