ELLERSLIE -- With people flooding in from the countryside to register for the very first census a little more than 2000 years ago, there were no rooms to be found in Bethlehem, not even for Mary and Joseph.
But, as anyone familiar with the Christmas story could tell you, it was important for the couple to find a place to stay, as Mary was pregnant and ready to give birth to the Christ child. So they sought shelter in a stable.
The Tyne Valley and Area Pastoral Care Committee is preparing an interdenominational presentation of the Christmas story.
Drive-Thru Bethlehem will be presented outside at Ellerslie Consolidated Elementary School from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, December 8.
Rev. Pamela Reidpath, one of the organizers of the event, estimates 40 to 50 people will help stage the journey, with two to three people taking turns playing the roles.
After an initial meeting in late October to discuss a drive-thru journey, Reidpath said a follow-up meeting was held November 15. “We had 25 to 30 people show up, but everybody knew somebody who was going to help, so we decided to go ahead with it.”
Preparations include acquiring animals, building pens for the animals and basic shelters for some of the characters, stockpiling bathrobes and tea towels for costumes and mapping out the six scenes along the route.
While the cost in putting it all together is minimal, Reidpath acknowledged some volunteers are working very hard to bring the presentation all together.
The goal, she said, is to “prepare us in walking towards, and reminding us of, the journey that Joseph and Mary took.”
Spectators will drive through the scenes, led along by shepherds. The merchant and the innkeeper will have main speaking roles. Characters playing Mary and Joseph will be there, too, and a prophet will help get the journey going, reminding people of scriptures telling of the coming of a king.
A census actually comes to life in this drive-thru journey.
While the census in Jesus, Mary and Joseph’s day was an opportunity for the Romans to tax heavily those coming in to Bethlehem from the country, Reidpath said the census in Ellerslie won’t be over-taxing. It will be an exit tax, rather than an entrance tax, and all that is being sought is a non-perishable food item in support of the West Prince Caring Cupboard. The donations will be accepted at the end of the journey.