Friday, December 16, 2011

Follow the star to Bethlehem at Afton

Follow the star to Bethlehem ... find the peace of the season ... it's closer than you think.

Bethlehem Village ... where the Christmas story comes to life ... returns to the Blue Ridge Mountains this weekend and you won't want to miss it.

Open December 16-20 (tonight through Tuesday) from 6-9 pm (Sunday, Dec. 28, the village opens at 5:00 to observe in daylight), visiting Bethlehem is a moving family experience that will bring home the reason for the season.

Here is what to expect when you visit....
Imagine a little village that existed long before colored lights, reindeer, or Santa Claus. Roman Soldiers walk the streets, Wise Men appear with their camels, shop keepers are going about their everyday lives yet this village is on the brink of something immense, the birth of one who would forever change the course of human history. Experience this village as it really was. Come to Bethlehem and see for yourself the magic and wonder of the first Christmas.

Step back in time as you enter the gates of Bethlehem of Judea. The Roman emperor has issued an order that a census be taken throughout the Empire and every citizen must register. On a cold winter’s night you are traveling streets illuminated by torchlight, wandering deeper into the heart of a village where cautious Roman soldiers patrol the crowd, Wise men, shepherds, livestock are among the many passersby, shops and shopkeepers inhabit a bustling marketplace, and welcoming cheer abounds. Now, far away from the tinseled trees and crowded malls that most commonly usher in the Christmas holiday season, this is an event no one should miss.
Located at Hebron Baptist Church in Afton, Virginia, Bethlehem Village is a project of love put on annually by the church with help from the community. Click here for directions and location information.

What is the history of the Bethlehem Project?
Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains a highly dedicated group of volunteers is transporting delighted spectators back to the 1st century with one of the longest continuous running "Village of Bethlehem" productions in the country. The Bethlehem Project was conceived in 1999 by Rev. Jim Ailor (Hebron Baptist Church pastor at the time), who, having studied a miniature model of Bethlehem and the nativity, decided to recreate historic Bethlehem for people to experience firsthand. He rallied members of Hebron and surrounding churches together to create a temporary village during those first few years. It began with just a few shops and characters in the parking lot of the church. Each year the village was erected and dismantled for the event.

In 2004 Hebron Baptist donated land to allow the village to be constructed as a permanent collection of buildings and stables. It continues to grow each year in its scope and dramatic portrayals while still maintaining the authentic feel of a small village around the 1st century.
Our family has enjoyed this historic experience over the years ... others have, too. There is no cost ... a small donation helps to continue bringing this living history to the people of Virginia and beyond.

Follow the star to Bethlehem. It's closer than you think....

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