Event offers experience of first Christmas

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Experience the sights and sounds of the first Christmas during a free “A Walk Through Bethlehem” Dec. 13-15 in the gymnasium at the First Church of God, 3482 S. Westwood Blvd., in Poplar Bluff.

Christmas today, with all it’s lights and tinsel, is so different from the first celebration when Jesus was born, said Pastor Ben Higgins of the First Church of God.

Higgins and the church congregation has been planning and working since March to offer everyone the opportunity to “come and experience Bethlehem and the humble and meaningful side of Christmas.”

The church members held their first Walk through Bethlehem last year and had “an overwhelming attendance with more than 700 people,” Higgins said.

A church youth group from Marble Hill attended last year and groups are welcome again this year.

Describing it as “such an enjoyable experience,” Higgins said, “the indoor event is a way to experience and capture the first Christmas story. Parents and grandparents may bring their children and grandchildren to help them envision the Christmas story.”

Those attending will have an opportunity to smell, see and touch real frankincense and myrrh, as well as taste a couple of reasonably authentic foods from that time period, Higgins said.

The gym will be filled with booths creating the small, first-century village of Bethlehem, with a carpenter’s shop, Palestinian basket weaver, innkeeper and blacksmith’s shop. Each booth will offer take-home items for the children so they can remember the story. The three wise men will also make an appearance, Higgins said.

The event is designed around Sukkot, one of the Jewish holidays celebrating the harvest, he said.

“Our entire congregation, a significant number of folks, have been working since March acquiring materials, costumes and different foods that are hard to get at this time of year,” Higgins said. “We hit our stride in late October. We are down to the homestretch now building the structures, with 50 folks working day-in and day-out.”

Some of the people portraying characters were assigned scripts to memorize so they will provide authentic information, Higgins said.

“About 75 people will be in character, which is a really big undertaking” for the event to be held from 6:30-8 p.m. all three days,” he said.

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