Bethlehem Walk
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  Posted December 22nd, 2013 by Zdenko  in Edmonton | 3 comments

Edmonton events

By: John Winslow

The first Christmas – the way it was 2,000 years ago
2000 years ago, something happened in a small town just outside of Jerusalem that changed the course of history. The birth of a baby, known as Jesus, put Bethlehem on the map – and the world has never been the same. We still mark our calendars by it today.

WECA – Bethlehem walk
Walking through the marketplace in the Town of Bethlehem would require traveling back in time. But with live goats and flocks of sheep, vendors selling bread, candles, cloth and birdcages, and others creating pottery and crushing olives and grapes — the scene at the West Edmonton Christian Assembly this weekend is as real as it gets.

This morning I was afforded a great treat. The Edmonton Foodbank invited me to a media op at West Edmonton Christian Assembly for the official opening of their exhibit, Bethlehem Walk. What an experience it was.

In a day and age when most people are afraid to mention the Christ child as the principle purpose for celebrating Christmas, and many won’t even call it Christmas, West Edmonton Christian Assembly has created an awesome re-enactment of the nativity story. This exhibit, rife with amazing actors, young and old, brings to life the scene that would have greeted Mary and Joseph when they arrived in Bethlehem for the census ordered by Caesar Augustus. WECA has recreated the market centre of Bethlehem, complete with merchant stalls, fields on the outskirts of town, stables and, of course, the full Inn, in their gymnasium.

Entrance into Bethlehem

A beautiful show in a field on the outskirts of town Bethlehem

Christmas angel descending from the sky

As you arrive for the Bethlehem Walk, you sit in a field on the outskirts of town. An introduction of the exhibit is given followed by the Christmas angel descending from the sky. A choir of angels then blasts out a modern, Pentecostal type Christmas song. At this point the doors to Bethlehem are thrown open and you step into a scene from taken from a history of some 2016 years in the past.

People of Bethelehem

Products for sale

From the cross and wood carving shop, to the Roman jail, and a mill in which real olives are turned into olive oil and wheat into flour, the realism shows the creators of this exhibition have done their homework. I noted a couple of things that take away from the authenticity of the exhibit, but I was looking for them when most folks wouldn’t. If you can ignore the “made in Pakistan” stamp on the mortar and pestle at the spice shop, and the pumped in lullaby music at the manger, you’ve got it made. I questioned the gentleman acting the part of the High Priest of the Jewish temple about his garb. He was remarkably well read on the subject, to the point he even explained the difficulty in creating the costume when there are differing Jewish opinions on the makeup of the breastplate and the length of the robes. Note: The Torah would never be removed from the temple unless it was accompanied by a quorum of Jewish men, 13 years of age or over. Children acting out many of roles are also well versed in the history of what they are acting out.

Products for sale

Products for sale

Collette Smith, going by the Hebrew name Minda, was folding and “selling” cloth in the Bethlehem marketplace.

The fishmonger has real smoked fish on his table; the chicken butcher has live chickens. There are stables that will have animals in them when the exhibit officially opens to the public. If you have a good nose you will smell the frankincense and myrrh at the spice table. You will definitely smell the smoked fish and the remnants of that which exits the rear end of a chicken. Fear not, it all adds to the realism that is the Bethlehem Walk.

After spending time in the Little Town of Bethlehem, those attending the Bethlehem Walk make their way back in to the auditorium of WECA. The auditorium has been decked out in dinner theatre style, with tables containing cookies and a little something to sip, all FREE! While enjoying some refreshments there will be live music and such taking place on the stage.

Bakery

All in all, this is a great experience for anyone of any religion or cultural background.

Edmontonhas many great exhibits during this time of year. Among these is Candy Cane Lane, The Christmas lights at the Legislature, Maisie’s Magical Christmas House, and now Bethlehem Walk. Pastor David Wood, the executive director of the exhibit, says the Bethlehem Walk is WECA’s gift to the City of Edmonton. It is an opportunity for Edmontonians to experience first-hand the story of the Nativity as set out in the book of Luke, Chapter 2.

There is no cost to experience the Bethlehem Walk. A donation to the Edmonton Foodbank from people attending the exhibit would be appreciated. Make an evening of enjoying this amazing exhibit. The experience is definitely family oriented. Kids of all ages will enjoy the experience!! This kid is going back again!!

I enjoyed the show so much, when I had an opportunity to see it a second time I jumped at the chance. The actual show for the general public is by and far better than the show for the media. I am so glad I attended a second time. I had a chance to meet with Dave Wood, Senior Associate Pastor of WECA. We had a great chat, shared some statistics, talked a little religion and shared some humor. I am blessed to have had this opportunity.

Bethlehem Garrison jail

They had a prisoner in there…

The pillory was used to publicly humiliate a victim

A couple of interesting stats. Opening day saw The Bethlehem Walk double it’s anticipated attendance. They had over 2700 participants on Friday night. Saturday night they extended their hours due to the onslaught of people arriving to see the show! I will provide totals for the Edmonton Foodbank at a later date. I know they are beating their food donation targets by big numbers. Fill-Up and Marjorie were at the event on Saturday night as well as Tamara and Debbie. Way to go WECA.

Edmontonians are invited to take in an interactive Christmas, dating back 2,000 years in the WECA gymnasium, at 6315 199th Street (Scroll down for a Google map).  Entitled the “Bethlehem Walk”, this free event asks those taking part to bring with them a non-perishable food item to be donated to Edmonton’s Food Bank.

‘Three kings’ walking thru the Bethlehem

‘Three kings’ walking thru the Bethlehem

The “Bethlehem Walk” was open to the public from December 10-13, from 6:00pm-to-9:00pm.

Bethlehem was a crowded place 

There are even wisemen and a live manger scene.

The Hebrew Bible (Tanakh in Hebrew) consists of 24 books, also known as: the Torah (Pentateuch) 

Bethlehem Walk 2011 – Event Information
Christmas comes to life as all of Edmonton is invited to taste, see and feel the story of that first Christmas night. Join us for a weekend for the entire family as we recreate the town of Bethlehem in our 11,640 square foot gymnasium. This event is free and a gift from WECA and its event Sponsors to those living in the Edmonton area.

Please support the Edmonton Food Bankwith non-perishable donations at the door. Admission is FREE!

Even the baby in the crib was real…

Park & Ride Information
For your convenience please take our FREE park & ride with your family. This is located at the Lewis Farms Transit Centre. Click here for a map.Google Map Link.

Here you will be able to park your vehicle for free and enjoy quick pickup and drop off on any of our free Bethlehem Walk Park & Ride buses. Enjoy traveling this Christmas Season to the Bethlehem Walk in Park & Ride Style!

“The original story is lost,” said David Wood, Bethlehem Walk executive producer. “We need to tell the story.” The marketplace in Bethlehem has been recreated in the 11,640 square foot gymnasium at the facility for the second time. Last year, 13,400 people took the walk. Organizers are expecting up to 25,000 this year over four days.

Blacksmith at work

Blacksmith at work

Blacksmith at work

“People have heard the story of the birth of Christ,” said Smith. “But in our modern minds we can’t picture it. “This makes it more real. And that’s just the idea”, said Wood.

“(But) all we’re here to do is … to tell a story and let people experience the first Christmas the way it was 2,000 years ago,” he said.

Location:
West Edmonton Christian Assembly (WECA) 6315 – 199 Street, Edmonton, AB
Click here for directions. For more information please contact the office at 780-489-2579 or email us at weca@weca.com. Bethlehem Walk Edmonton is a proud supporter of Edmonton’s Food Bank.

For more information, as well as times, visit weca.com.

Click HERE to see more GREAT shots in the iNews880 Photo Album!

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