The Christmas Place

Thanksgiving was four days ago, and it’s only twenty-five days until Christmas. Indeed, we are firmly rooted in the rich and fertile soil of the Holidays with all the unavoidable demands. 

Some of the unavoidable demands:

  • over-crowded stores, are there any? 
  • dings in my car door by careless people
  • shoppers rushing and crushing with impunity 
  • catalogs I don’t want from stores I’ve never heard of
  • landfills of daily mail yearning for my holiday dollars

The truth is I don’t shop in stores, and I avoid malls at all costs. My car door doesn’t get dinged, nor do I get rushed and crushed by rude shoppers. I rarely get holiday-induced headaches. But the landfill of seasonal mail and catalogs remains. 

Yesterday, I was asked this question:

“What would happen this Christmas if Amazon went out of business?”

The question subdued me, the prospect being too terrifying to imagine. 

On review, it sounds like I am a modern Ebenezer Scrooge. I assure you it isn’t true. You would need to search far and wide to find someone who loves Christmas any more than I do.

Some of what I love most about Christmas:

  • colors, lights, trees, and decorations 
  • awareness of his birth and nativity scenes
  • Christmas Eve service with candle lighting
  • celebrating with friends, coworkers, and my church
  • Christmas with family

 I have been to Bethlehem several times. It sits a few miles south of Jerusalem, and if you visit the Holy Land, the tour will likely take you there. It is a town of 25,000 people and bears little resemblance to the relatively small village in which our savior was born. 

Of course, there is a church standing over the traditional site where Jesus is believed to have been born; it is the Church of the Nativity. You enter the church, are lead to stairs, and walk down until you reach a cave-like room and stand in line. When your turn arrives, you get on your knees to look inside the covered place he is thought to have been placed at birth. 

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem

Inside the Nativity Church

I don’t know if it’s the place or not. There isn’t enough archaeology to verify it historically. But it could have been. To me, it didn’t feel like the place, but what value do my feelings have? Then you go back upstairs and eventually exit the rather massive church structure. At that moment, you must do something; you must look to your right where you will see the hills of ancient Judea, the fields of Bethlehem. Standing there, I could so easily imagine shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night. As I did, the birth of Christ felt real to me. I can’t explain why; it just did.

The Hills of Ancient Judea, the Fields of Bethlehem

To Close

So, get online, or brave the real world of stores, and get the gifts for your loved ones. As you do, please take a moment to remember that the presents we give at Christmas are based on the Magi presenting gifts to the infant savior. 

Me? I love Christmas. 

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