By Alise Weber – Littleton, Colorado … The Littleton Adventist Church grounds was transformed into the City of Bethlehem on December 19 to welcome the community to experience Bethlehem.
Planning for this event began in March and the scale of the event was changed multiple times due to the ongoing pandemic. What didn’t change was the organizers’ hope to share the Good News and the joy of Christ’s birth with all who attended. The idea of hosting an event like The Bethlehem Experience became more of a mission as many churches were unable to offer traditional religious Christmas activities for their congregation and communities.
During the event, each group of 40 travelers was greeted by a guide at the Bethlehem gates who shared important information about their visit to Bethlehem. After the introduction, their guide led them into a busy night market where Roman soldiers loomed in the background. Travelers were beckoned by marketplace business men and women “selling” fabric, produce, hot drinks, small animals, and cookies. Tax collectors were encountered throughout the marketplace ready to collect “taxes” for Rome.
Exiting the marketplace, the crowd traveled to the shepherd’s fields where the children and young-at-heart could interact with the goats and donkeys there. The fields encompassed an inn with a tired, but cranky innkeeper who was tired of people knocking on the door asking for a room for the evening. The crowd’s attention was drawn to the ancient story of the shepherds watching their flock by night through the narration of Luke 2. Eyes were drawn to the heavens as fireworks lit up the evening sky, much like the Bethlehem star many years ago.
Following the star, the gathering, filled with anticipation, made their way to an ancient cave more than 2000 years old inside the tent. There, those who gathered witnessed Joseph comforting Mary as she prepared to give birth. As angels surrounded the couple, Joseph emerged from the cave holding baby Jesus, played by 10-month-old Sully Palmer. The watching group, moved by the arrival of Jesus, expressed their emotion through applause and tears. Others sat silently, absorbing the scene unfolding before them.
The evening concluded with the Wise Men inviting individuals to rediscover Jesus in the year ahead.
Tierra Hull, invited by a member of the Littleton Church, attended with her husband and two young boys. After the event, she wrote to her friend, “We LOVED it and hope you do it next year. My son said it was the most fun tradition ever. We all feel so blessed to have had a fun Christmas event this season.”
More than 450 people, many visiting Littleton church for the first time, attended the free 30-minute Bethlehem Experience.
With the success of The Bethlehem Experience, Littleton Adventist Church would like to make it an annual event, with the desire of sharing with more and more people the hope, light, and joy Christ’s birth brought to us all.
If you would like to view the Nativity scene, please visit https://www.facebook.com/LittletonSDA/videos/676031106427379
–Alise Weber is Littleton’s Children and Family pastor; pictures courtesy of Littleton Facebook page.