Members of the Campbell River Baptist Church will recreate Bethlehem at the time of the birth of Jesus Christ

Come to Bethlehem And See

The recreation of Bethlehem returns to Campbell River this Christmas after a brief hiatus

Imagine you are a weary Christmas shopper, on Dec. 3-6, looking for a rest and perhaps some lodging.

You travel along Dogwood street and see at the Baptist church an intriguing line up. What could it be? There are lights, and festive people enjoying themselves. You take a closer look, someone is handing out delicious looking apple cider and cookies. A friendly man in a high visibility vest beckons you in with his flashlight.

“Come to Bethlehem,” he calls out.

Bethlehem? What does he mean? But everyone looks so cheery, you decide to follow his leading and join the line. To your amazement you notice a donkey, chickens, and assorted other animals. This is incredible- you think you’ve seen it all! Then suddenly a bright light appears in the sky, and shepherds are bowing all around you.

“Wait,” you ponder, “I’ve heard of this before, but I can’t quite recall why.” Before you can put the pieces together a menacing group of Roman soldiers appear with shouts of orders to get you through the gate, you are too startled to protest and before you realize it, you are in the city square and the gates bolt behind you.

From here you are jostled through what looks like city streets where vendors are trying to sell you fresh bread, fruit, spices, cloth, candles – the options are endless. A gorgeous white temple looms in front of you, dancers are swirling about, a crazy man yells out what he thinks will be the future. This is spectacular, the energy is electric – what will happen next?

As you wind through the streets you become more and more comfortable with the hustle and bustle around you.

“Yes, this is why it’s so familiar. This is Christmas!” You get in on the fun, try to barter with the olive oil shop and buy your wife some jewelry. “It’s all coming to me now,” you reflect “next corner, I’ll see the tree, start smelling the turkey.” Towards the edge of the city, you notice it getting darker, a little more somber. The energy slows down, the lights dim.

“Hey,” you notice, “there’s those shepherds I saw earlier.”

You find this intriguing, and you follow their silence until you notice a tiny babe in a feed trough, with his parents looking loving on. The shepherds are bowing, and there are beautiful singers gathered around what looks like a barn.

“Could this be the stories I remember from my childhood?”

You can’t help but bask in the peace this moment offers.

“How can I keep this peace? If only I could capture this peace and love, and have it with me always.”

You linger at the manger, enjoying this with the other new friends you’ve met through your adventure. As you wake from your personal reflection, you feel compelled to race home and bring your family back to Bethlehem.

Come experience the original story and meaning of Christmas from Dec. 3-6, starting at 6:30 p.m. and finishing at 9. Experience the sights, sounds and smells of what the city of Bethlehem looked like 2,000 years ago, in an interactive experience brought to you at the Baptist church, on Dogwood street across from the RCMP detachment. This is a completely free event, and a gift from your local churches of Campbell River.

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