OA: Church brings Bethlehem to life December 19, 2008

Photos Special to the Sentinel
Actors are part of a past “Bethlehem Revisited” at Northeast Christian Church. The church is recreating the town again this holiday season with more than 100 actors, a camel and sheep.

The town of Bethlehem from more than 2,000 years ago is being brought to life by a local church on the nights of Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 19–21.

Northeast Christian Church will recreate the bustling town where the Bible says Jesus was born in “Bethlehem Revisited,” a live action, guided tour of a scaled down city and marketplace.

Diane Baker, casting director, said the church puts together this experience every year “to bring back what Christmas is all about. The real meaning of Christmas.”

“The presents and lights are nice, but the real gift is Jesus,” she said.

“Bethlehem Revisited” is free to attend. Those interested can show up anytime between 6 and 8:30 p.m.

New this year are camel rides from 2 p.m. to dusk on Friday and Saturday. One ride costs $4, a ride and a photo costs $6.

Northeast Christian has put together some form of “Bethlehem Revisited” since 1993. After taking a few years off, the church brought it back last year and more than 3,000 spectators came.

Each year, Baker said the production gets added to and becomes a little more elaborate with the help of church members such as 80-year-old Ed Hearlson, who oversees the construction of the city.

The tour starts in the church’s sanctuary where guests are treated to songs from a choir. Then a tour guide leads people outside where a camel, sheep and shepherds circle around a campfire and an angel speaks to them from above.

“Behold, I bring you tidings of great joy,” the angel will say. The rest is history.

Back inside guests are led to the city’s marketplace past the inn with no room. Shopkeepers will peddle their goods, bread, jewelry and candles. A blacksmith will pound away on a heavy anvil.

There will be 100 actors milling about with Roman guards to keep the peace. The Roman governor will make an appearance.

Last but not least on the tour is a baby Jesus in a manger.

“We do the best we can to make it authentic and real,” Baker said.


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