An immersive and interactive walk-through of the nativity drew more than 3,000 people to the Christian Life Assembly church in Langley over 10 days.
On Sunday, Dec. 12, the last day of the “First Christmas” presentation, CLA Lead Pastor Derrick Hamre was one of the guides, welcoming a group of two dozen adults and children, for a 20-minute tour of ancient Bethlehem, recreated within several rooms inside a large tent set up in the church parking lot.
“There would be no Christmas if there was no Christ,” Hamre told them.
“Tonight, we’re going to tell the original story of Christ’s birth. You’re going to meet the shepherds and the wise men, you’re going to have an understanding of Mary and Joseph and how, 2021 years ago, Christ came to earth.”
It was a walking tour through the story of the first Christmas, a living nativity that included live actors and multimedia, beginning with the story of creation and ending with Mary and Joseph, and the birth of Christ.
Groups of 25 to 30 people went through every 12 minutes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The lineup started before the tent opened and stretched into the parking lot as the evening progressed, with gas-fueled fire pits to help keep people warm while they waited.
“We’ve never done anything like this,” Hamre told the Langley Advance Times.
“It was our desire to put on something simple, yet profound, to remind both our community as well as neighbours and friends what the original Christmas was all about.”
It was inspired by a CLA Christmas show last year, created in response to pandemic restrictions.
“We did a drive-through of Bethlehem, and Charlie Brown told the story in two minutes,” Hamre recalled.
“We thought, let’s take what Charlie Brown did in two minutes, turn it into 20 minutes, get people out of the cars, get people walking around, and invite them in for hot chocolate and cookies, and warm them up.”
This year, the church was able to meet pandemic guidelines by holding the event outside, while requiring participants to wear masks.
There was no charge to attend and no reservations were required.
On Sunday, an exhausted Hamre was happy at the response, but said it was “too early” to say if the church would do it again next year.
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