I’m starting to think about Christmas. I realise that this won’t be the first Christmas post for some, but I haven’t seen many about Christmas items in my newsreader yet. I get excited this time of year, even when I want to scream out against the commercialisation and my liturgical side wants to keep the focus on Advent (even though I love the Christmas decorations already out and I have already got my first Christmas recipe themed coffee from Starbucks).
Speaking of the commercialisation of Christmas, I remembered one of my favourite photos I took in Bethlehem earlier in the year, which you have no doubt already seen because it’s right there on the page. The shop is right across the street from the entrance to the Roman Catholic Shepherds’ Field on the outskirts of Bethlehem. There’s a small cave with a chapel inside, said to be the place where the shepherds were huddled together the night the angels spoke. It was one of my favourite stops on our tour, and surprisingly so.
Our guide (a Palestinian Roman Catholic) answered questions about the poverty of the Palestinians and the wall built by the Israelis, forcing many into the role of outcast. He then moved straight into the story of shepherds, who were the poor and illiterate outcasts of their day. Our guide’s reminder: the poor and outcasts were waiting for the messiah, also. It was a Christmas Eve sermon I wished I could preach.
Of course, you leave the gates of Shepherds Field and you are right back into the commercialisation of Christmas! I love how the shepherds are following a star and the star guides them to… their very own souvenir shop!