By Alise Weber – Littleton, Colorado … More than 700 community members experienced the atmosphere of Bethlehem on December 19 during the annual Bethlehem Experience presented by the Littleton Adventist Church.
The church’s campus was transformed into the town of Bethlehem where visitors were reminded of God’s light in our world, a chance to interact with marketplace shopkeepers, visit shepherds watching their sheep in the fields, and experience that beautiful, holy night Jesus was born and the hope He brought to us all.
The evening was divided into nine groups of 75 – 90 people, each arriving 20 minutes apart for the hour-long walk-through.
Each group began their journey in the sanctuary, where they were greeted by Andy Nash, Littleton Church lead pastor, who explained the purpose of the evening and prepared the onlooker’s hearts.
“Who feels like they need a Lord and Savior now more than ever?” Nash asked the crowd. Many raised their hands high.
After Nash’s introduction, attendees witnessed a five-minute opening drama set to the song “Praise You in this Storm” by Casting Crowns. The opening scene depicted many conflicts that have emotionally touched us in 2021. One scene showed a nurse attending to a patient on a ventilator; another showed two Afghanistan women cowering and afraid, and an additional scene showed a store closed due to lack of staff. At the end of the skit, a host of angels surrounded each struggle and resolved the sorrow. Many attendees exited the sanctuary with tears, being moved by what they had just witnessed.
“It seemed like in the experience everyone had something to relate to in our lives. It brought joy and hope to our families,” Dana Tikker, Littleton church member, said.
The Bethlehem travelers were next guided to a bustling marketplace where loud shopkeepers enticed visitors to buy animals, fabric, fruit, vegetables, bread, and pottery. Of course, two foreboding Roman soldiers called on the newcomers to be counted for the census in the background. “Have you paid your taxes?” a local tax collector asked one of the visitors.
With travelers full of hot chocolate and cookies that a local shopkeeper graciously gave them, they were guided to a neighboring inn, where a not-so-pleasant innkeeper shouted that there was no room to rest. Thankfully, a nearby shepherd’s field brought them some distraction with shepherds who greeted them warmly and some adorable animals, such as donkeys, goats, and sheep that welcomed the hay and the soft pats the children offered.
The tranquility of the shepherd’s field ended abruptly when a burst of light and a host of angels appeared. “A savior will be born,” the lead angel exclaimed to the crowd directing them into a nearby tent transformed into a cave. Inside they were greeted by Mary, Joseph, and a host of angels surrounding them as they witnessed the birth of the Messiah.
The Bethlehem Experience concluded when wise men and shepherds arrived on the scene, and onlookers left reflecting on what they had witnessed with the parting words still fresh in their ears. “Wise men and women still seek Him today, and if you seek Him, you will find Him.”
Littleton member, Steve Peck, reflecting on why the experience is essential, said, “The Bethlehem Experience is unique because it creates an opportunity for the congregation to minister both internally and externally to the community. I’m eager for this ministry to grow in size and reach.”
The Bethlehem experience was a church-wide effort that involved more than 80 volunteers who helped make the evening memorable for the community.
To view a video of the opening scene please click here
To view a video of the Nativity scene please click here
–Alise Weber is ministry coordinator for Littleton Adventist Church; photos supplied