|The Living Nativity|
We were not at all prepared and we nearly froze, but this was one of our favorite Christmas experiences. Be sure to dress warm, because you have to stand in the church parking lot in line for 20-30 minutes to catch the shuttle up to the Nativity (for directions to the church, see below). The "shuttle" is actually a horse trailer-- yes, you read that right, and it is lined with hay bales for your sitting convenience. A short ride later, they let you off at the Living Nativity. Before you take a short walk up a hillside, listen to the orientation, given by a shepherd, and warm yourself by the fire. There are live animals as you climb to Jerusalem, including donkeys, camels (both bactrian and dromedary for you camel buffs), goats, llamas (they came all the way from South America to see Baby Jesus!), sheep, and several centurions on horses. As you enter Jerusalem, which serves as a large shed for 11 months out of the year, stop and listen to the wise men. Then proceed through the craft section of the city and watch the spinners, basket weavers, potters, artisans, children playing games, leather craftsman, more live animals (feed the donkeys), and even use a 2 man saw (out of place, but a hit nevertheless).
As you leave downtown Jerusalem and near the stable, a small brass band gently plays hymns. Then you walk through the door and see him. Tears sprung up in our eyes. A hush fell over the children. Our 2 year old was all eyes and stood and stared. Joseph stood near Mary, who was holding the Christ-child. He couldn't have been more than 4 months old. He quietly looked at each passerby. It was truly beautiful and inspiring. In a way, the cacophony of Jerusalem outside the quiet stable really set the tone for the event. We will do this again every year because of the Spirit we felt at that moment.
As you leave, hot chocolate is offered, and the opportunity to donate to cancer research is gently presented. Then it's down the hill and back on the horse trailer. Dress warm, and bring a few dollars for donation. Plan on spending about an hour at the Living Nativity (not including wait time to get there). This event IS all it's cracked up to be.
|Finally on our way in the horse trailer.|
|Petting the donkey|
|The wise men|
|We got to try out the saw.|
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