While Santa Claus, decorated trees, twinkling lights, colorfully wrapped presents, carols, and last minute shopping are all part of our modern day observance of Christmas, if you would like to experience what that very first Christmas might have been like now is your chance.
Village Church will be putting on their “Journey To Bethlehem” program this weekend. It’s not your average Christmas program either. The church’s courtyard has been transformed into Bethlehem as it may have been at the time Jesus was born. From the Roman Centurions standing guard over the costumed vendors who are “selling” their wares, to the live animals in the living nativity scene, it immerses you into what Mary and Joseph may have encountered.
Over 60 church members are involved in the productions that has taken many months to put together. From the sets to the costumes, volunteers have been hard at work getting everything ready for this weekend. This is the 8th time the church has put on “Journey To Bethlehem.” The program is only presented every other year.
Your personal journey to Bethlehem begins just as it did for Mary and Joseph over 2,000 years ago, as your register for the “census” under the watchful eye of the Roman guards. Next you visit the Money Changer, who will present you (free of charge) with your own coins to use in the marketplace. You then enter the market place which is the church courtyard transformed back in time.
Using the coins you were given, you can purchase all kinds of interesting items, from delicate flowers made by a wood carver from Mulberry branches, to handmade knitted caps, to pita bread with honey. There is something there for both young and old to enjoy.
As your journey continues, you visit the inn that was too full to accommodate Mary and Joseph. Like them you proceed to the stable, which this year has been designed to be more in keeping with what Biblical scholars believe was in a cave. There you will find Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus lying in a manger, all portrayed by real people.
“We have several babies portraying Jesus,” said Mary Anderson-Harris, a spokes person for the church, “As well as rescue animals in the nativity scene.
The “Three Wise Men” are also there, and as you get to the end of your journey, you see where they have parked one of their camels. The camel is not real, but it does offer a great place for a photo opportunity.
“Journey To Bethlehem will be open Dec. 13, from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Dec. 14, from 5-8:30 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 15, from 4-7:30 p.m. Admission is free. Village Church is located at 3216 W. Victory Blvd., at California St. Parking is across the street at Ralph Foy Park, or on surface streets.