My friend has just returned from a trip to the Holy Land. He lamented the situation of Bethlehem. The security wall round the city is now finished and covered in graffiti. He found the atmosphere of the city was hostile and intimidating. Wisely or sadly, he avoided visiting the ‘holy’ places’ as he felt as they were only tourist attractions with little religious significance.

A number of years ago i visited the same city with the same party. At that time the wall was not quite completed, but we had to get out of the coach for a security check as we went in and out of the city. No doubt it’s the same now, or even worse. At one time when I was a passenger, the car was attacked by missiles as it was known to be owned by a Christian.

I reflected on the significance of this city in Biblical history; there are many references. Bethlehem was the place chosen by God to be the birthplace of Jesus. This fulfilled the prophecy. In Micah 5:2, ‘You Bethlehem, although you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me, one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’ Then in Matthew we read, ‘Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea.’

I fear there is weeping over Bethlehem today!