Last year, my family attended a special Christmas event at a nearby Southeast Baptist Church called Bethlehem Marketplace. It turned out to be one of the most beautiful and impactful interfaith experiences I’ve ever had.
The church set up a giant tent-like facility where visitors would walk through to experience what it may have looked and sounded like in Bethlehem during the era of the Savior’s birth. Everything looked so authentic, it felt like I took a step back in time. All the actors were dressed in clothing from that time period. There were stands where vendors would “sell” things to you, like jewelry or pottery. There were live animals. Roman soldiers. Tax collectors. You could smell hay, bread, raw fish, animals, dirt.
As I walked through the “marketplace” with my family, I wondered what it would have been like to live in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus Christ’s birth. I thought about all the people who lived before the Savior’s birth, who had to have great faith that a Savior would come at all.
At the end of the noisy marketplace, there was a quiet, more secluded area. This was made to look like the inside of the stable where Jesus was born. A family representing Mary, Joseph, and the Baby Jesus sat in the hay. It was difficult to suppress emotion as I looked upon the sweet baby and thought about the humble conditions the Savior came into. How the greatest Being that ever lived on Earth spent His first night in a trough where animals eat from instead of a soft bed in a palace.
Attending the marketplace was a very moving experience. I was so impressed with the time and care the members of the Southeast Baptist Church took to present such a beautiful tribute to the Christ child. I thought it was wonderful that even though our religions have many differences, we were able to connect on the important Person we worship in common: Jesus Christ.
I’m looking forward to going to this event again this year!
If you have an opportunity to attend an event like this, or maybe a live Nativity, please go. It will inspire you and turn your heart even more to the Savior.