And, contrary to what many people are taught and believe,
we are Christians who follow the teachings of Christ.
And, we celebrate Christmas.
Several of our wards and branches across the world often celebrate what is called
"A Night in Bethlehem."
We have done it in our own ward.
Our church buildings are literally turned into a replica of
what it may have been like
when baby Jesus came into the world.
So, when friends of ours invited us to come to theirs,
And, it was the best I have ever seen.
Let me show you some of the photos I took.
|After walking up the sidewalk that was lighted with luminaries, we were greeted by a tax collector, who had us sign our name onto the "census". When Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem, they went to their ancestral homeland to pay their taxes.|
|Their entire cultural hall was set up with different booths to visit. Here, we find cups containing grapes and an orange slice.|
|A woman served cold ice water from a "well" in the middle of the room.|
|A bakery served up delicious honey cake.|
|Patterns were provided.|
|The finished product!|
The blacksmith shop was a real favorite with the children.
|Mmmm....the bread shop.|
|It smelled good just standing there.|
|Typical fare in the Middle East -- pita with hummus|
|I had never had fig jelly before. It was delicious! Especially on homemade bread.|
|The cheese shop was one of my favorites, for I have had cheese from this couple's farm before. The metal thing with a wooden block on it is a cheese press.|
|Everyone was given a toy Dreidel.|
One of the busiest places was the lamp shop.
The man who worked this booth buys gourds from the local Amish, and has brought back beads from southwest Turkey.
His shop was phenomenal!
|Some of the gourd lamps.|
|Look at those beautiful rugs! It was so colorful and inviting.|
And, can't you just envision guests lying back on those rugs eating figs and grapes?
|More of the gourd lamps.|
|A gourd before being decorated.|
|Everyone was given a little lamp to light up at home using olive oil.|
|Innkeepers insisting there is no room.|
|A reminder for us all.|
I can't imagine being nine months pregnant,
having ridden 90 miles on the back of a donkey,
trying to find a place to stay,
and no one really wants to help.
|After stopping at the Inn and being told to move on, it was time to visit the costume shop.|
|My friends had fun decorating Kerry.|
|After getting all costumed up, it was time to be led outside to the live nativity.|
|It was held outside on the front lawn. All of the animals were in pens, the light was shining, and it was a perfect setting.|
Now, why am I sharing this with you?
I am a woman of faith.
And, I always have been.
You don't always find me mentioning it,
and you sure don't find me preaching to you...
unless you ask.
And, several of you have.
This was a simple activity made beautiful.
It made me stop and think what it would have been like
to be in a very busy town
with merchants peddling their wares.
It made me stop and think about the travels
of Joseph and Mary.
It made me think about the people of Bethlehem,
who had no idea the Messiah was about to be born that night.
Not one who save them from political oppression,
but who would save their from their own sins.
I thought about all of those things on our drive home
through the countryside of Ohio.
It's a tender time of year for me,
and this made me yearn even more for
the peace that He gives.