Story by: Janice Burdon
“There’s got to be more to Christmas than this,” muttered Jenny to herself as she trudged through the large department store trying to figure out what to get her niece for Christmas. Every year was the same. She spent Christmas at her sister’s house with the whole family who attempted to engage her in pleasant conversation. Everyone tried to seem grateful for the gifts they had received. Her nieces and nephews ran rampant through the house overly excited with their Christmas presents. The shopping, wrapping, baking and visiting was all a part of the normal Christmas ritual but every year, something seemed to be missing. Jenny tried going to church one year only to be disappointed with the message that seemed to drone on and on without purpose. What was the purpose? Was there a meaning to Christmas or was it fashioned for the sole purpose of capitalizing on commercialism? There had to be more to it than this.
One day, her friend Nadia invited her to an outdoor drama production on the grounds of Nadia’s local church. “This is no ordinary play, Jenny,” Nadia promised. Her friend said that the Walk To Bethlehem had been running for eight years and drew literally thousands of people every year, some even from out of the province, to take part in a live re-enactment of the nativity story.
As they arrived, there was excitement in the air. People filed from their cars and headed for the entrance. They waited in line and were served hot chocolate as carolers sang Christmas songs to ease the crowd into the mood. Finally, they entered through the Roman Gate into the church, where they were greeted by their guide for the evening. They learned they were to take a journey to a town in the ancient Middle East in the company of a group of strangers, who on this night, were to be her ‘family.’ What a strange thing? Were all these people searching, as she was, for the real meaning of Christmas? Each person, was given a Roman coin, which the guide warned, was to pay their tax with and not to be squandered in the marketplace. This piqued Jenny’s interest.
They stepped outside into the first scene – a herald proclaiming the decree form Caesar Augustus that all the world was to be taxed. Then a haunting musical lament followed, yearning for the end of years of oppression and the coming of the ‘Promised One’. The crowd was whisked away to the overbearing, fanatical King Herod who insisted that, once they found this special child, they must come back and tell him so he too could go worship him. Jenny immediately felt a strong distrust for this king as did the other members of the family. As they walked away, some mean-looking Roman soldiers wanting to know why the group was out travelling the roads at such an hour stopped the family dead in their tracks. The guide, who was quick to recover her wits, explained that they were going to pay their taxes. This seemed to satisfy the soldier who let them pass.
The road to Bethlehem was lined with torches and crackling fires for light and warmth, and the family crossed paths with animals around every corner. Next, they came to Wise men, shepherds and angels that had this same vision of a king being born. What was all this talk about a king and a babe that brought so much uneasiness and excitement upon this sleeping little town of Bethlehem? Jenny just had to find out. “Let’s keep moving,” said the guide. It was getting late when suddenly; thieves who were out taking advantage of weary travellers robbed their guide! Taken aback, they all continued to the marketplace, thankful for its shelter. Inside the warm marketplace, they were met with a thousand sights, sounds, and smells. Vendors were upon them trying to hawk their wares. Colours, music and life with its enchantments were all around them. It was so tempting to purchase a loaf of bread or a pretty scarf but Jenny recalled that she needed to hang on to her coin to pay her taxes. Then like cattle, the crowd was herded into a hallway where the guide knocked on a big thick door. Out came a tall burly Roman soldier who asked if they had coins to pay their taxes. The guide, who seemed intimidated replied meekly, “We do, sir.” “In you get and make it quick, we haven’t got all night!” barked the soldier. The whole family got to pay their taxes and the city officials stamped every passport.
Their guide sensed that her family was getting tired by this time, so she knocked on the door of the local inn, only to be told that there was no room. They tried one more time but still the innkeeper was a grouchy old man not willing to budge. The wife of the innkeeper, however, was kind enough to point them to a stable nearby where they could rest awhile. When they opened the stable doors, they gasped at what they saw……..
Now, it wouldn’t be fair if I told you the whole story, would it? You must come and seek out for yourself the real meaning of the wonderful mystery of the season we call Christmas. For inside that little stable of straw and wood lies the reason for the season. That night, Jenny finally found the real meaning of Christmas she had been looking for. “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and His name will be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:6
The Walk To Bethlehem is free and will take place this year at Hudson Community Baptist Church located at 3141 Cote St. Charles in St.Lazare. The dates:
Friday, Nov.29 from 6:00-9:00,
Saturday, Nov.30 from 5:00-9:00.
Friday, Dec.6 from 6:00-9:00
Saturday, Dec.7 from 5:00-9:00
***Tours are free and leave approx. every 10 mins.
***Please dress warmly and wear proper foot attire
For more info contact: 450-458-1945 or visit www.hudsonbapist.com