Wow! All I can say is, wow! I imagine I’ll generate a couple more posts from this year’s Walk Through Bethlehem, but for this morning I simply need to reflect on the amazing power of the witness to life that this weekend was – and continues to be – because of God’s great gift to humankind.
From one perspective, we shattered all existing records in terms of attendance. More than 1,000 visitors came on Friday; over 1,400 Saturday evening; then – in a profound exclamation mark of “you’ve got to be kidding”, another 1,656 guests showed up to walk through the simple story and to launch Advent 2017 from the perspective of God’s continuing initiative of grace.
For our team of guides that meant leading 4,104 pilgrims on an interactive journey that unwrapped, layer by layer, the deep, essential, elemental meaning of the nativity, and the promise that (still) is Jesus.
Personally, I enjoyed every tour I led. But there was one moment of sweet magic when it all came together; we had just moved from the Innkeeper’s front porch to the stable. My forty pilgrims included around fifteen small children who I ushered to the front. Then, when the floodlight revealed Mary, Joseph, and the baby, I said, “He is beautiful! What is the name of your child?”
Mary answered, “We have named him Jesus.”
Immediately, several of the children let out a collective gasp. “It’s Jesus!” a six-year-old exclaimed. “It really is Jesus!”
Yes, it is, friends. Yes. It. Is.
Here are a few photos from Sunday night. Enjoy – Derek
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.