WELCOME TO BETHLEHEM!
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. – Luke 2:15-16
Each December our church home – Wake Forest Presbyterian – offers a “set the season in its proper perspective” outreach to the community that’s done as well as anything I’ve ever seen in over thirty-four years of ministry.
It’s called “Walk Through Bethlehem,” and it’s our Christmas Card to the Community. It’s an interactive historical experience that places each visitor in the heart of First Century Judea as part of a tribe, and right in the middle of the Greatest Story Ever Told, the life of Jesus.
Last year 3,300 visitors experienced the story, and Friday evening I took a tour of our church campus to see it once again overflowing with people, buzzing with excitement, and resounding with the good news of the amazing invitation to meet the newborn child, and to let the Gospel of Love transform our lives.
THE STORY CONTINUES:
I love the way our cast orchestrate the conclusion. After finally finding Mary, Joseph, and the child, my tribe – Benjamin – was taken to our final station, three floodlit crosses. “The story doesn’t end at the manger,” our guide told us, “it continues here to the cross, where Christ died for each one of us. We can’t really understand the nativity without engaging the meaning of the cross….”
My tribe moved on from the cross, and then the story of Easter morning too, with a clear picture of why Jesus is still the Greatest Story Ever Told, and with a clear invitation to enter into the story as active participants in an ongoing life of faith.
If you live anywhere near this part of North Carolina, it’s certainly worth taking the time to visit WFPC this weekend, and to take a walk through Bethlehem. Regardless, it’s a narrative we can’t afford to just watch, it’s a story to immerse ourselves in, it’s a story we need to live.
In love, and because of love – DEREK