Thursday, December 06, 2007

Night in Bethlehem

I've been meaning to post a most wonderful experience my family had last Saturday night at our church's Christmas Party. Growing up most people thought of us Mormons as being a bit prudish and lacking in partying ability. Well, for the most part that is true. But this last weekend's party not only was great fun, it was spiritually uplifting.

Much to the grumbling of a number of members of our ward (a ward is the Mormon term for a congregation), our activities committee elected to fore go the whole "Santa Scene" and go for something a little more authentic and spiritual. The theme was "A Night in Bethlehem." The goal was to give the participants the feel for what it must have been like at the time Jesus was born. Everyone was encouraged to dress up in period clothing and to come, be taxed (a canned food donation to a food bank through an Eagle Scout project), and participate in the census (an informal headcount to see how successful we were). A roman centurion had us sign in and presented us with some shekels that we used to purchase our middle eastern food, dessert, and to participate in vendor activities such as the Jewish top game, dradel (sp?).

Our fam was mostly dressed in robes and sheets and I had the pleasure of participating in a Nativity, or Christmas Pageant, as a wise man.

The moment that held the most significance for me was when I approached the baby Jesus lying in a manager to present Him with my humble gift (truly humble as it was some German half-eaten cookies/cakes from a German sister in our ward in a shiny silver container). I had the most profound spiritual revelation that the birth of Jesus was truly a miracle, it did happen and my heart was moved upon by the Holy Spirit. Interesting that I don't think I've openly questioned this before, but the Spirit chose to confirm and witness to me that night of its truth. I was overcome to near tears and was so tremendously grateful for the experience.

During the pageant the children sung some Christmas songs and the tone of the whole evening was very low key, spiritual. We even departed the party in hushed tones, keeping the reverence of the evening going 'till we reached the car.
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