Every year our church begins the holiday season by giving a gift to our whole community. They close the perimeter of the church for three nights, and transform the parking lot there into a living Bethlehem….what it would have looked like the night of Jesus’ birth. The cast members walk around and engage with each other, completely in character….ignoring the thousands of cars that slowly pass through over the three nights. Our town is practically shut down as traffic is re-routed to accomodate the 2 hour long line of cars waiting to drive through and catch a glimpse of the newborn king. Each year we participate….usually as villagers or shephards wandering through the marketplace or keeping watch over the live sheep. But this year was special. We happened to be one of the few families in the church who had an infant….so we were honored to play Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus in the Nativity Scene.
Don’t worry, Jayna wasn’t left out…she still got to be a villager with Sue Sue! For those of you who couldn’t see it in person, here’s some shoddy pictures I was able to grab while riding through during a break. Sorry they aren’t better!
Jayna sees the bright North Star (aka a ginormous spotlight), calling all of the Lowcountry to come see the story of Baby Jesus’ birth.
The census-takers count all who enter the town of Bethlehem.
Roman Guards stand at the gates to Bethlehem.
Gabriel tells young Mary that she will be expecting a baby, and to name him Jesus.
King Herrod hearing the rumor about the Savior being born.
Joseph and pregnant Mary rest on the side of the road.
An angel tells the Good News to shephards watching their flock.
The blacksmith and his apprentices in Bethlehem.
Women at the well gossip about a tiny king that was reportedly born in a stable nearby.
Families mend the nets and attempt to sell fish.
Calling villagers into the temple.
Women and children barter for rugs, fruit, bread and baskets in the marketplace….while trying to avoid the Roman Guards.
The Innkeeper and his wife turn villagers away from their inn…there is no room.
Mary and Joseph admire Baby Jesus, as the three kings offer gifts as the shephards and livestock look on.
The excited chatter of the village fades away as the cars drive past the Nativity and into the darkness. To the left is a silent, lit cross.
And to the right…an empty tomb….reminding us that Christ’s birth was just the beginning of the story.