Now that all the adornments of the holiday season have been stored away, it gives one time to reflect on the Christmas of 2016. First of all I must acknowledge that without a doubt, the Yuletide is my favorite time of year. I enjoy all the secular aspects of it: the colorful lights and decorations, the baking, and yes, even the shopping.
However, my real fondness of Christmas was shaped by two things: the music and the story of that night in Bethlehem so many years ago.
As a first grader, I remember standing near the big Christmas tree in the hallway at Cherry Hill singing, “Wind Through the Olive Trees.” I was hooked. I knew I would never tire of the beautiful music associated with the celebration.
When I think back on all the Christmas programs I have either attended or practiced for, I am sure I have literally heard the Christmas story hundreds of times. Still, I never tire of listening to it.
On Dec. 9, 2016, my cousins had an extra ticket to “A Journey to Bethlehem” at Heritage Memorial Church, and they invited me to go with them. I not only heard the Nativity story but was actually able to experience it.
I won’t try and tell you it wasn’t cold and windy because it was. However, as we moved from setting to setting, one became more attentive to the conversation of the characters than to the weather.
I discovered new aspects of the age old tale from the prophets in the Bible to the extent of the wickedness of King Herod. As we listened to the shepherds near Bethlehem, I must admit a chill that had nothing to do with the weather ran through me when the angels appeared.
As we left the stable with the precious baby, we exited through the centuries only to be greeted by carolers and the music I hold so dear. Then we moved into a crowd of smiling faces offering us hot chocolate and other tasty treats.
Later I thought about what a wonderful gift that church has given to the community. The entire church had to be involved in some way. The backdrops at each station were so illustrative, and the characters played their parts so well. The time spent on the costumes and the stalls in the market place in Bethlehem must have been immeasurable. The cookies they served must have taken hours to make, as did the food at the market in Bethlehem.
As I said before, it was cold and windy that night, but the cast members and guides were as enthusiastic as if it had been warm and pleasant. How fortunate we are to have Heritage Memorial Church in our community. I will never forget my “journey to Bethlehem” in 2016.
Thank you Michelle and Connor Campbell for inviting me, and thank you Heritage Memorial Church for the magnificent Christmas gift you gave to me.
906 Clinton Ave., Washington C.H.
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