A photo of me in Yanoun by my friend Paul Buck
I post this pretty much every year on Christmas Day. It's not the only thing to say, nor the most important. But as far as I can figure, it's true.
The first time I understood the story of the Nativity, I was in a Palestinian village called Yanoun, in the northern West Bank. I'd gone there with a few friends associated with the World Council of Churches' Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine/Israel, to meet folks in the village and hear about their lives.
We got a bit of a tour from two shepherds, both young guys who joked and laughed with each other as they shared their day with us. They showed us where they kept their sheep. It was a low, dark cave, noisy and crowded with animals, and smelling like...well...sheep shit. The mangers were a tad rusty, with sheep pushing at each other to find space to eat. It was a good hangout for sheep, but not really the sort of place where you'd want to have a kid. I remember thinking: "Oh. If God can be born here, I guess God can be born anywhere."
Merry Christmas. Wherever you are, remember: God can be born right here.
Here's a song I wrote about that trip: