Jesus and Starbucks

Jesus and Starbucks, what do these two things have in common?  They both command a long line, especially during the holiday season.

This weekend, I joined throngs of holiday shoppers to finish up my Christmas shopping. I have to tell you, I’ve always enjoyed holiday shopping (especially if I take parking out of the equation).  I like being out there amongst the crowds and decorations and holiday music.  And I couldn’t help but notice, from Toys R Us (which is downright painful at times) to Macy’s, customer service was better than when I go out shopping during the week.  More employees=faster service.  Except, that is, for Starbucks, where they seem to have a penchant for irony, because it was, in fact, the only place I had to wait during my weekend shopping excursion. However, Starbucks wasn’t the only place boasting a line, this weekend.  Apparently, Jesus can still pack the house, too.

Every Christmas, our local Baptist church puts on a show called The Living Nativity. For the past four years, as December approaches, I’ve watched as signs get posted around town, post cards are mailed, and people begin talking about The Living Nativity.  This year, I decided we would see what all the hype was about.

The first night we set out, by December standards, was a warm balmy night.  After dinner, we dressed the kids, loaded them into the car, and made the short drive to the church, only to be greeted by darkness.  Turns out, I had read the sign wrong, the show didn’t start until the next night.  Strike one.

Two weekends passed, filled with the busyness of life and the holiday season. However, I was still determined to do something that emphasized the true meaning of Christmas, since it is a religious holiday, a fact, much to my dismay, Second Son seemed totally unaware of.  So, we decided to give it another shot, this past Saturday night.

Once again, we dressed the kids, loaded them into the car, and made the short drive to the church.  Except this time, when we pulled in the parking lot, it wasn’t desolate. Instead, it was something out of scene from Disney world, complete with parking attendants waving lit wands, directing us towards highly coveted parking spaces. Knowing how crazy competitive I can get with lines, I really had to keep reminding myself that we were at a church to see the baby Jesus.

Upon entering the building, we were handed a card with the letter D on it, and directed to a small holding room with about thirty other people. We didn’t know, at that point, that we were waiting to go into the church, which held a few hundred (probably more) people, who were also waiting for their letters to be called.

Once in the church, we were entertained with some Christmas caroling by various groups and watched a short play about the creation of man, complete with Adam and Eve being cast out of the Garden of Eden.  Being Catholics (which, for better or worse), is a much more staid religion, let’s just say, we found it interesting.

But, back to the letters.  When we first sat down in the church area, the letter X was projected on the wall, which didn’t seem too bad to us, since like I said, we were letter D. But, when after Z, they started with AA, our optimism quickly went down the drain. After an hour of waiting and waffling, as to whether we should stay or go, we left.  It was eight o’clock, they hadn’t made it to A yet.  Strike Two.

Cut to Sunday.  I’m driving home from the mall at 4:45.  The sky is beautiful, I’m feeling energized having scored some deals at Banana Republic (40% off the whole store), finished my Christmas shopping, and had a latte.  I call home and tell my husband that if the kids are up for it, we’ll try again.  It was the last night of the show.

We arrived, this time, at 5:15, fifteen minutes after it opened.  There was already a line outside the door.  By the time we got our cards, they were on letter M.  We again, went inside the church and sat through the shows.  Let me just tell you, this thing is carefully orchestrated.  There’s just no way to escape the creation show.  They time it just right, between the cards and the wait time, so that everyone spends a little time, everywhere. Our wait inside the church area, last night, was about thirty minutes. We were then taken to a holding area in the lobby and given a little pep talk, by a man dressed as Joseph (I’m telling you, someone definitely studied the Disney, keep them moving technique).  It would be another fifteen minutes before we were actually guided through the living nativity by our own personal shepherd, which took about forty-five minutes, in the cold, to walk through.

It was very impressive.  The time and effort, complete with live animals and lifts, sending angels and Jesus soaring into the air, was amazing.  My favorite part (which I didn’t get a picture of), was the replica village of Bethlehem, with Roman soldiers and bartering merchants, walking amongst the crowds.I wish I had more, and better pictures to share, but there was some confusion as to whether I was allowed to take pictures or not, so I didn’t start snapping, until I saw others taking out their cameras.

Was it worth it?  I’m still undecided.  As impressive as it was, it did consume an excessive amount of time (over four hours of combined waiting/touring time), and it was freezing. I think, if we ever do it again, we’ll go the first weekend, when I hear, the crowds are much smaller.I am happy to say that my kids liked it, although Second Son was not pleased that we ditched out on the hot cocoa and cookies, at the end.  He perked up, though, after he learned that, instead, we were headed straight for McDonald’s, since it was after seven and none of us had eaten dinner, yet.

All in all, I’m glad we went, and it’s nice to know, in an era where consumerism seems to reign supreme, that Jesus can still pack them in.



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