A MODERN DAY PARABLE – BETHLEHEM’S NATIVITY CHURCH
I collect churches. Wherever I travel, my souvenir of choice is a miniature of an actual church. I am not interested in generic churches which you can find anywhere. I look for a replica of a historic church. Although I have been in most of these churches, I have one that I have not visited. It is the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Biblical Archeology offered this replica for purchase to subscribers a few years ago.
The Church of the Nativity was first built on the site thought to be the birthplace of Jesus in 333 AD. It burned down in 529 and was rebuilt in its present form in 565. It is one of the oldest continuously operating churches in the world. However, it is jointly owned by three denominations – Roman Catholics, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox.
In 2008, the church was placed on the Watch List of the 100 Most Endangered Sites by the World Monuments Fund. The deterioration of the roof is impacting the structural integrity of the building and rainwater is damaging the 12th-century wall mosaics and paintings.
The three denominations have the money needed to renovate the church. However, nothing has been done for years because they cannot agree on how to work together. The Palestinian Authority, a predominantly Muslim organization, has decided to take action. Palestinian Tourism Minister Khouloud Daibes said,
“Our president (Mahmoud Abbas) has issued a decree to restore the roof and to prepare for the restoration of the church on behalf of the three churches and in coordination with the three churches, which obviously cannot do it on their own.” (http://www.christianpost.com/news/bethlehems-nativity-church-to-get-overdue-repairs-63163/)
Paul wrote that the Philippians should “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ… I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel.” Philippians 2:27.