The Nativity - What is the meaning?
Bethlehem is full of meaning for a believer in Jesus. The familiar story of God being robed in flesh and being born in a manger moves us, not just at Christmas but throughout the year. Often in our minds we see the shepherds running joyously to the town to see the Good News made flesh.
We imagine the long journey that the wise men took from the east to Bethlehem. Together, these two groups from the opposite ends of the social and economic scale worshiped the newborn baby whom they “found lying in a manger.”
Even now, pilgrims to Jerusalem who come to follow Jesus’ last days on earth, usually also travel the short distance down the road to Bethlehem to remember His birth. Manger Square and the Church of the Nativity, and a trip out to the Shepherd’s Fields are popular stops to reflect on how His earthly story began.
Often, a church group will also mention the story of King David being a shepherd boy in the fields around Bethlehem. From here he traveled down to the Valley of Elah, where he faced down Goliath in faith. On a clear day, the red cliffs of modern Jordan, Biblical Moab, will be visible on the horizon to remind pilgrims of the story of Ruth, King David’s great grandmother. In faith she made the journey with Naomi across the Great Rift Valley to the town of Bethlehem. In that town, she met Boaz, married and had a son. Centuries later, another of her descendants would be born in Bethlehem as well. He was the one Who was “born King” according to the magi.
A popular gift to buy in Bethlehem are the beautiful olive wood manger scenes which are hand-made locally. Many stores are dedicated to the sale of these souvenirs.
They vary in price and size. Some are tiny and can fit in the palm of your hand, some are much larger. Some are simple with just Jesus, Joseph and Mary while others are much more complex. Whatever your need, you are sure to find a manger scene that suits.
An option for the savvy traveler to the holy land is to buy these manger scenes in Jerusalem instead of Bethlehem. Sometimes the realities of modern life in the holy land, or tour schedules will impede a group from visiting Bethlehem. In that case, you can go to Zak’s Jerusalem Gifts on Christian Quarter Road in Jerusalem’s old city and find olive wood manger scenes like those sold in Bethlehem.
As you enter Zak’s store, you will see a large variety of manger scenes displayed to your left. Some of these nativity sets are created exclusively for Zak’s, you will not be able to find them anywhere else.