As Christmas draws near, College Heights Baptist Church is hoping others will join them in celebrating what they believe is the real reason for the season.
"I wanted to find a way to bring the focus back to the Christ child," said Becky Moore, an organizer of "Bethlehem Revisited," a walk-through replica of the town on the night of Christ's birth.
"We're going to go back in time 2,000 years," she said.
The event will be from Sunday through Wednesday, from 5 to 8 p.m., outdoors on the church's property, located on Kalifornsky Beach Road. It is free to the public.
Moore said she got the idea after she visited a similar event in Waxahachie, Texas roughly six or seven years ago.
She said she was so moved by the experience, she wanted to find a way to share it with others in Alaska, so she pitched the idea to her church. "It's a God thing, not a me thing," Moore said.
The church agreed, and this past November began work to put the event on locally.
Rather than some holiday events, such as drive-by Christmas light functions, Bethlehem Revisited is designed to be interactive. Moore said the nearly 100 church members involved in the re-enactment are going to make every effort to present an experience that engages the senses and makes guests feel they are actually roaming the streets of Bethlehem on that historic night.
"People will begin by visiting King Herod's court and seeing him trying to persuade the three wise men, chief priests and scribes that no one will take his place," she said.
From there, visitors will meet census takers and tax collectors, which Moore said is the reason Joseph and Mary were in the city on the fateful day.
Then, guests will be able to walk through the city and see demonstrations of historic crafts.
"They'll get to see the market place in full bloom," Moore said. "There will be numerous shops, such as a blacksmith, a basket weaver, someone who works leather, a potter and a flute maker. Everyone will be in character and costumes from the period."
There will also be sheep, goats, chickens and other livestock roaming about, as would have been familiar to the people of the past.
"We're still working on getting a donkey for Mary, though," Moore confessed.
The event culminates with the birth of Jesus.
"That's the main focus," Moore said. "Mary and Joseph will come through, go to the inn, be told there's no room and that they have to go to the stable."
After his birth, the three kings will present their treasures, angels will be in the fields and the church's choir will sing.
Moore said since the event is outdoors, there will be several warming fires for people to stand near, and in the church the movie "The Star of Bethlehem" will be playing continuously for anyone to watch while warming up.
More said she hopes this inaugural event will be well attended.
"I hope it will take the focus back to the meaning of Christmas and how special that day was."
For more information on the Bethlehem Revisited event, call College Heights Baptist Church at 262-3220.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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