Friday, December 16, 2011

Making the Story Real

I walked the grounds of the Washington DC LDS Temple this evening with my husband. He noted that the lights were quite beautiful. I responded, "I think it looks like a Disneyland Nativity Theme Park." Bah humbug and so forth.

The scene unfolds. Happy people pour into the Visitors Center and onto the grounds, delighted and entranced by the spectacle. Elder Santa Missionary greets them coming up the sidewalk, "Merry Christmas! Welcome! Thank you for coming!" He means it. He's happy we came.

Colored lights shine everywhere, green, blue, red, and purple. Glittery strings drape every tree and shrub on the temple grounds, a million twinkly points of light to conjure up an ancient scene transpiring in the parking lot, complete with Mary, Joseph, the Babe, shepherds, and angelic voices singing hymns of praise while a loud, omnipresent narrator's voice tells the story.

I don't believe Jesus was born in a parking lot in Bethlehem. I don't believe it was a happy time for Mary and Joseph. I don't believe the ancient scene was adorned with a million colored lights. I don't believe the missionaries were there in Bethlehem. I don't believe that an announcer was giving bystanders the instant play-by-play action. I don't believe that hundreds of people were milling about watching it all happen in the stable. Bethlehem was a holy birth not a light show.

The scene at the temple is beautiful, but it's far removed from Bethlehem. Enjoy the lights, but remember, it's a production. It's not the real thing.