Giving birth to her first child, a son, Mary wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.
Though the tale of the birth of Jesus is widely known, few have had the opportunity to walk in the shoes of the shepherds themselves, that is, not until Disciples Christian Church led community members on the biblical walk-through drama recreating the sights and sounds of the village of Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth.
"This is our gift to the community," said Carol Salmon, coordinator for the event, of "Journey to Bethlehem."
'Do not be afraid; the star has come to bring you good tidings of great joy, and to show you the place where a little babe is born, a little babe whose name is Jesus, and who will give peace and joy to the whole world.' Playing the roles of the angels we have heard on high were Jamie Vrabel, Meghan Kluchar, Grace Basham, and Jenna Vrabel, who pointed the way to the Christmas star.
According to Salmon, it was through the commitment of the "Journey to Bethlehem" committee, the 30 church member actors and volunteers, and Pastor Tim Brown that the church was able to provide the live nativity event, held from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15 both inside and outside the church.
Visitors made contact with the Romans, who provided them with coins and spurred them forward to the tax collectors as they began their journey through to the city of Bethlehem. Along the way, they encountered King Herod, angels, who pointed them in the direction of the Christmas star, wise men and shepherds, and concluded as they came upon the infant Jesus, played by three-month old Evan Grope, accompanied by his parents Sarah and Michael Grope, in the roles of Mary and Joseph.
Making the adventure all the more realistic were live animals, including two camels, provided by the Duane Felger family.
Salmon shared that the event was meant to focus on the true meaning of the season -- bringing families together -- and concluded with cookies, cocoa and crafts for families to enjoy in the Fellowship Hall.
Although admission for the event remained free, new this year, according to Salmon, was the addition of asking visitors to provide the offering of a nonperishable food item to be donated to Project Feed Our Valley.
Salmon shared that on the day following The Journey to Bethlehem, the church was to host a morning performance from the Boardman High School Chorale, a fitting conclusion to a weekend abundant in what is truly the real reason for the season.