Monday, December 13, 2010
A Street in Bethlehem
We forgot our camera, but fortunately I was able to find some pictures online. We went to this sort of living nativity across the border in Washington. We all loved it. The Roman soldiers scared the boys at first, but then they got into it. So here's how it went... First the greeters gave us our "gold coins" and told us how to get past the Roman guards is to make sure you have the right information for the census, that you are from the tribe of Judea and the house of David. So once the boys were no longer hiding behind our legs with the Roman guard, and we answered his questions correctly, we were allowed in the city gates. The ground was all hay, the only lights were torches everywhere. Flickering torchlight in the night can do miracles in transforming rows of stalls into a Bethlehem street.
The stalls were all filled with market-type vendors. Vegetables, bread, dyed wool, candles, sweets. There were also tradesmen, a wood worker building something, fishnets draped for mending, and a basket weaver. We were immediately approached by someone wanting to know if we'd like to "rent" a basket for our journey through town. Atticus, after another explanation, reluctantly parts with one of his coins. Then he got the hang of it and was into this buying thing. He bought some unleavened bread and twisted bread (pita and pretzels) from the baker. Then he bought a lavender sachet for his Mama, (and the lady let him pick out the things to put into the sachet!)
Then we were stopped by another Roman soldier who sent us to the census taker, we had to again tell our tribe and house, and then I had to sign our family name into a scroll, and pay our taxes. There were beggers, chickens, goats, children having too much fun being "urchins," and a couple of inns, that were of course, full. Then a priest was calling people into a temple for a reading of the prophecies. We went in and sat on little benches in the stall that had candles and white Christmas lights and lots of billowy fabric transform it into a temple. He stood and read from a large scroll several prophecies about the coming of the Messiah.
Then we came out in time to see Mary and Joseph coming in with their donkey. We missed the expected dialogue with the Inkeeper because we wanted what appeared to be hot cider or cocoa from a vendor. The boys were thouroughly disappointed to find out it was lentlil soup, but Joanne and I enjoyed the soup.
Then an angel appeared. (The only tech element, a 500w worklight and a microphone and a pair of wings transformed a tall blonde surfer dude into a commanding angelic presence.) The angel told us all of the Messiah's birth, and where we could find him.
Then we went and stood at the stable, where a young Joseph and Mary held a plastic baby Jesus. (It was cold and rainy, so I wouldn't have let them borrow our baby either.)
Then a narrator told a bit of the story from scripture, including the three kings, who did not appear, but we were encouraged to give gifts for the baby Jesus as they did. So the boys each went up and put some of their gold coins in the manger. I thought this was a nice touch, because in our journey through the market, the boys had come to ascribe worth to their plastic coins, so it actually meant something to them to do it, and they wanted to.
During part of the narration, the speaker mentioned the "City of David," and Phinehas turned to Joanne and said, "David? Mama, I don't want to see Goliath." I guess he figured all the Bible stories were going to just keep rolling in!
After this, we went into a gymnasium (it was hosted by a Christian high school) for free hot cider and cookies. It was a lovely experience and the boys are already asking when they can go back. I read online about a massively huge version of this in California, but I think I would prefer this one small street, as it was just right for us. I also kept thinking of my brother Brian, and how much he would enjoy something like this. We also thought of many other family members, especially Grandparents, that we wished we had with us. We miss you all very much.