Most people who have been to church or Sunday School can tell the Christmas story down to the details with wise men, shepherds, and angels. For the past two years, the residents of Cannon Falls, Minnesota, have had the opportunity to see and experience a night in Bethlehem at True North Church. For three hours on a December, Sunday afternoon, True North transforms their worship center into Bethlehem after the birth of Jesus, complete with theatrical scenery, costumes, and a live nativity.
Before December arrived, over half of the church members begin preparing costumes and scenery. Then, on the day of the event, visitors entering “Bethlehem” are greeted by Roman guards who conduct them to the makeshift marketplace. In the marketplace, vendors teach visitors about making candles, painting ornaments, baking pretzels, writing Hebrew, and creating a natural-healing balm. As visitors engage in crafts, they the vendors talk to them about Jesus. During their journey through Bethlehem, visitors also encounter wise men who are searching for the newborn and shepherds who are asking, “Have you heard the good news?” Finally, visitors encounter the family of Mary and Joseph with their baby.
“A Night in Bethlehem” brings the people of True North together and gives them an opportunity to share their faith. Pastor Scott Wildenberg describes his church family by saying, “We as a church are looking beyond ourselves.”