Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Christmas Miracle

It was probably my best Christmas yet. Sneaking into the World Cup, World Series, and NCAA Final Four is nothing compared to getting into Midnight Mass in Bethlehem without a ticket. And while these mundane sporting events do provide a forum for inebriation and repression of my sin, they don't provide a forum for instant confession. But alas, this was not sneaking in for the sake of watching a meaningless sporting event with no real world implications. This is one of the holiest rituals in the world for Christians, and it was an honor to witness it firsthand. This Christmas, I am grateful for all the Palestinian ticket-takers who didn't see me as I meandered my way into the Church of the Nativity. However, the Church on this night decided that four ticket-checking perimeters is not enough. There had to be five. Thus I would be remiss to not also be grateful for the one final Palestinian doorman who did catch me, but instead of instantly kicking me to the curb, listened to me with an open heart and decided to let me in ticket-less. (Don't ask what I told him!) In all my years of sneaking into sporting events, rock concerts, and countries, that has never happened to me. I guess he figured that I had come so far, and the look of desperation on my face was so genuine, that he couldn't do it. What a guy! Having spent a large chunk of the past two weeks in Bethlehem, working on this story for Time, I felt that it was only fitting that I end the piece with footage from this incredible ritual. Maybe a higher power also found it fitting. Enjoy the video:

Bethlehem's Complicated Christmas

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