Every tale has a beginning, and the Christmas story is no exception.
This Friday, Immanuel Lutheran Church and School is inviting the community to experience the story of Christmas from the beginning, joining students, staff and members of the congregation in recreating that original journey into Bethlehem on the “One Starry Night” Christmas Walk.
“They can bring the Christmas story to life and start out the Christmas season with the focus on Christ,” said Karen Reincke, coordinator of the walk.
The journey begins at the city gate, where they will register as guests of Bethlehem and be counted by the census taker. Once counted, specialized passports will guide guests on their journey through the story.
“Each location they travel to–the stable, carpenter shop, marketplace, inn–are all different parts of Bethlehem that would be in the Christmas account,” Reincke said. “They can make a craft at each station–writing their name in Hebrew at the census taker’s office, making a manger ornament in the stable, or a toy at the marketplace.”
To enhance the event’s atmosphere, Immanuel eighth graders clad in the garb of shepherds, Roman soldiers, beggars and townspeople will be present to greet and guide guests along the way.
As the census taker, 13-year-old Alexis Reincke’s character is one every guest must meet on their journey.
“I will be walking around to answer and ask questions,” Reincke said. “I think (the walk) is a great idea to get people to wonder and show them what it was like back in Jesus’ time and how they would have to live.”
Fellow student volunteers Michael Barno, 13, and Emily Valicevic, 13, in their roles of Roman soldier and shepherd, respectively, will help to further the illusion.
Wielding shield and sword, Barno may look the part of a Roman soldier, but said guests shouldn’t be afraid to approach him–he’ll be more than willing to pose for photos.
Valicevic will join other wandering shepherds during the walk and tell anyone who asks that she is “following the star and trusting God.”
While guests are free to journey through Bethlehem at their own pace, those wishing to break from sight-seeing can visit the worship center, where a brief service and caroling concert will be held every 20 minutes after 7 p.m.
And if wandering the streets of Bethlehem causes guests to work up an appetite, the gold coins each guest receives at the start of the walk can be exchanged for cookies and hot chocolate at any time in the school gym.
The walk, which is free and open to all ages, begins at 7 p.m. Friday at Immanuel Lutheran Church and School. The evening ends at 8:30 p.m.
“This walk keeps us focused on Christ and what he has done for us as part of Christmas as opposed to other parts of Christmas that tend to get emphasized,” Karen Reincke said. “At least a hundred people are helping to make this event a success.”