Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Walk Through Bethlehem

A local church does a program where visitors are invited to experience the town of Bethlehem as it might have been during the time of Jesus' birth. We went for the first time this year as 1) it was free 2) it was a beautiful evening and 3) we didn't have anything else going on and it sounded neat. We joined the crowd waiting in line where we received "shekels" from prosperous villagers and were harassed by beggars, who were hustled off by Roman soldiers (all with "classic" Roman noses). We registered for the census and paid half our shekels in taxes before we got into the marketplace. We saw animals, were assaulted by the smell of dried fish and chicken, and the girls got to make tiny candles in a sand pit.

We then went inside where we saw many more merchandise stands set up in the gym cleverly disguised with cloths, plants, straw, and lights, then we passed out into a courtyard where a stable was set up with live angels and holy family. This was my favorite part. All the children were fascinated with the scene and they went forward and dropped their beads and shekels in front of baby Jesus. It was very sweet.

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