The Tour Guide told us we’d be taking in the sights and sounds associated with the reign of King David, but that didn’t really prepare us for some of the things we saw. After a chat with Mary, heavily pregnant and in her kitchen baking bread for a long journey, we were kitted out with robes and headwear that would help us blend in, we set off for Herod’s palace, expecting to observe proceedings at court, not expecting him to shout at us.
We chatted to shepherds near Bethlehem to find out how David would have cared for his sheep, not to be faced with larger than life angels singing worship songs on an enormous screen that suddenly appeared in the sky…
This was Destination Bethlehem, Clevedon Baptist Church’s immersive Nativity experience, and part of its 12 days of mission initiative that covered the beginning of advent. During the week, 480 schoolchildren were guided through an impressive labyrinth of screens and tableaux that filled the church. At the weekends, free, pre-booked tickets were available to the public, and small groups were taken around each with their own tour guide. In total there were 1064 visitors.
Each visitor had the chance to make their own bread roll, which was ready to eat by the end of the tour. Particularly impressive was the Bethlehem street scene full of market traders – and the angels, who always appeared in HD on a large screen or three.Of course the tour culminated in the stable with Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus, but there was one more surprise around the corner. Clevedon’s Associate Minister Phil Durrant, sprayed in silver and perfectly still until you put a penny in his hat, played the part of a ‘street prophet’, taking us through the future story of Jesus sharing the loaves and fishes to the real purpose of his coming. Let’s pray that there were visitors who heard this, and continue to ponder it in their hearts this Christmas.