Monday, November 29, 2010

A Fantastic Christmas Experience!

We all want to make Christmas special... meaningful. And sometimes we wonder how to help our children catch the true meaning of Christ's birth amid the excitement of presents, visiting, and general bustle of the season. Our family has discovered an event that really draws our children into Jesus each and every year... an outdoor nativity pageant!

About the end of November/early December, a nearby town puts on an outdoor nativity pageant, bringing people on a journey to Bethlehem to meet the newborn Christ. It's truly amazing. Put on collaboratively by area churches in a big country park, it is truly a testament to the season.

We, and our children started off in a big decorated barn, where we enjoyed a choir singing Christmas Carols while we waited to start the journey. When our turn came, we were grouped with others and put into a "family" that would go on a journey to Bethlehem to be counted for taxes. Our guide led us through the park to different sites along the way that mark the Christmas story. We saw Mary being greeted by the angel Gabriel, Joseph's dream, Herod's court, the wise men, met Roman Soldiers, the shepherds (and their sheep!) and finally entered the stable where baby Jesus lay and the little drummer boy played for him.

There were so many other stops along the way as well... basically the entire Christmas story was acted out, and because you are in a park at night, it brings "reality" to the experience. The kids got "passports" that had to be stamped by the Roman soldiers, there were real camels, goats and sheep that they could pet, and at the end, we were treated with hot chocolate, cookies and colouring books. Finally we enjoyed a beautifully lit wagon ride back to our vehicles.

The whole adventure was truly wonderful. I enjoyed seeing my 8 year old run to catch up with the guide to hear everything she had to say. The little ones were mesmerized by the play and the lights. And everyone enjoyed petting the animals. But the very best thing was hearing all of the children's questions about their Saviour.

There are so many different nativity pageants put on by churches at this time of year. If you are looking for a way to make the season truly special, I highly recommend checking one out. Even if you have to travel a bit, it is so worth it. This has become a family tradition for us, one I hope we can continue until we are old and grey.

Merry Christmas everyone!

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