Trees, Lights, Garland, Tinsel, Decorations, Shopping experiences, Presents, Family Gatherings… NOTHING….Like the original.
Even going to Bethlehem in the Muslim quarter I can tell you that what some believe is the original birth scene has been so “deified” and commercialized that you would not be able to recognize it.
It’s located inside of a building that is hundreds of years old and controlled by several religious groups. We stood in line for several hours before we crowded down these steps.
This picture does not do the real event justice. It was crowded and we had been standing in line for several hours. The doorway contained another stairwell underground into the grotto.
When you get inside you can look to the right and see two prized locations – birth and manger.
They are crowded by the building and decorations. Although you can reach in and touch the supposed location of each, there is so much “coverage” that I doubt much of the unexposed site is available.
It was so very much a weird experience!
Candles, decorations, grates, marble… It’s amazing how much of this has been commercialized. And with a swift understanding I look at our modern decorations and maybe they do make a little bit more sense!
While we were at the bottom stair step, a train of Catholic priest came in at noon and performed a 15 minute mass. I was one step away from these men as they lit the incense and chanted their mass in a language I did not know. The incense was so strong and cloudy I was surprised that I did not break into a fit of coughing.
As they left and the crowd returned, there were many other foreigner tourist that stooped on their hands and knees, crying and praying over the birth site and the manger location.
I felt disjointed. How could anyone connect these places with the actual birth location and time of Jesus? It looked nothing like all the manger scenes dotting the landscape in my neck of the woods!
The presentation of the site could in no way stand up to my imagination of the reality of the original in much the same way that modern Christmas scenes can not in any way compare to the original.
Even with all the human connection to the location, I think that my question is very valid to consider today.
Why Christmas? And I still think my answer of “Why Not” is very apropos. We must understand the purpose for the birth of Christ, and, we must be able to share it in such a way that we can make it relate – not to the madhouse modern scene, but to the simplicity of the moment nearly 2,000 years ago.
Over the next few days I hope to answer this question. Please, stay tuned.