Bethlehem Marketplace

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Though I may love Santa, I realize the real reason for Christmas is to celebrate the gift of Jesus Christ. This is why we couldn't just visit Santa, we have to talk about Jesus and learn about Him. What better way than to go visit Bethlehem as it might have been when he was alive? I must add that Cian was up very late the night before and had a traumatic day with Santa that day but he did get a nap before we left for Bethlehem, or the Bethlehem Marketplace at Southeast Baptist Church. (I didn't take any photos so all the photos here are stolen from the Southeast Baptist's web site, sorry)!

When we got there we had to wait in the sanctuary for a bit before we could go in. The shepherds who were in a tented section had cold feet because they had on sandals and it was snowing so they had to take a break to thaw. Cian thought the sanctuary was a playground and wanted to crawl under the pews and run around. This was not ok and we had to visit the bathroom once. He may or may not have had a little spanking and had to stand in the corner. And I may or may not have been caught spanking my child in the church bathroom by a family.

When we went in we were greeted by shepards with their flock who told us about a baby who had been born that was rumored to be the savior of the nations. As we entered the city we had to sign our names for the census, that is why we had traveled there after all. They asked us where we were from and when we said Murfreesboro they asked if we came by foot or boat. Let's just say that it was a long trip. We entered the city and were greeted by the friendliest camels who wanted to love on us and chew our jackets. There were also many people selling things in the marketplace. These included food, fabric, pottery and metal. There was also someone squishing grapes for wine. (Not going to say this was my favorite section but...). Our money was not recognized but there was a place to exchange gold or silver for their currancy. (They didn't really take your gold or silver). While we made friends with a camel we saw some young guys in jail, they told us they were there for spreading the word that a savior had been born. Apparently the Roman soliders walking around weren't too keen on that idea. (They weren't too keen on much).

We walked through and heard an announcement about what happened in the city that day. We then went and talked to an inkeeper about staying for the night, but there wasn't any room, anywhere. He told us that a family had come the day before and he didn't even have room for them but they stayed in his stable and they were there still. They had a baby while they were there and he was rumored to be the son of God. The inkeepers daughter was precious, maybe three years old, and she was telling us there wan't room for us to stay there. After meeting him we went and had a man write Cian's name in Hebrew. (I have to add that Steve threw this away the next week because as usual I left it sitting on the dining room table. So what if it was going to stay there for a month, I wanted to keep it). We went into the stable next and there was a donkey, a sheep and a family with a brand new baby. We went over to look at the baby and I told Cian, "Look, that is baby Jesus" and my sweet little angel said, "Don't like that baby Jesus". Oh great, yep, we need to be here. I told him that Jesus loved him and he said it again, "Don't like that baby Jesus." Wow.

Well we left the manger and walked back through the town so Cian could see the camel again. Actually he dragged me back through the town to the camels. We stopped to eat some cheese and then stopped at the wine press. Cian wanted to eat grapes, and he was a little greedy about them. You would think his parents hadn't fed him lunch, wait we didn't. After eating more than his share of grapes they started giving him some to throw. He loved this! Cian was able to throw the grapes into where the girl was stomping them with her feet. We stood there for a good five minutes tossing grapes in. As we were tossing the Roman soliders came out to block the street leading into the manger. We asked why we had to wait and they gave us mean looks and short answers, blasted soldiers. While we waited an older lady was talking to us and talking about Cian. Cian took one look at her and said, "Lola". Which in Cian speak means Yoda. I pretended like I didn't know what he was saying and just kept the conversation with her going. In his defense she was pretty wrinkly and had a hooded jacket on. Her skin was not any shade of green though.
We were able to walk through and see baby Jesus again and then we headed out of Bethlehem. There was a wooden cross on the way out and I stopped to thank God for the gift of Jesus. I don't deserve it and can never do enough to warrant it but the gift is there nonetheless. Grace has been granted to me time after time. I have more blessings than I know what to do with and this time of year makes that very apparent. My little family is the best blessing I could ask for. Though Steve may not have gone with us and Cian may have cried and screamed and said he didn't like Jesus they are still a tremendous blessing. We are not perfect but we are the perfect gift to each other year after year. Merry Christmas!
If you want to see some good photos you can look at Mary Leigh's blog here: (She is a mom who remembers her camera always!)

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