The Church of the Nativity is under construction. I enter by the door of humility, bowing down, and then as I allow my eyes adjust to the light I find the huge ancient pillars protected by wood panels and the entire sanctuary filled with scaffolding. Right in the front, in the Orthodox sanctuary section, I sit to pray, pulling in my feet to avoid being treaded on my unwary pilgrims who navigate through their camera lenses. There are few, because of the unrest, but there are enough who have come talking and flashing cameras that I need to be aware.
Nevertheless I pray, here and in the Catholic sanctuary next door, slightly quieter because the Franciscan insistence on silence is more respected there. The sense of being under construction persists. Are we looking at destruction here in this place or is it a necessary phase of construction? The God of Jeremiah is like a potter. When the wheel thrown pottery does not take the shape the potter wants, the clay is tossed back into a heap, the failed pot is demolished, and the clay is reused later.
Clay feels no anguish. That is not true here. Is it the anguish of birthing or dying? A combination of both, perhaps.
I pray for my people by name, those here and those at home, and those in my parish where I serve, in the holy place where the holy child who overturned despair and brought hope was born.