It takes a village to recreate Bethlehem 

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The three wise men lead a group at Holy Walk to Bethlehem. (Submitted photo)

The three wise men lead a group at Holy Walk to Bethlehem. (Submitted photo)

Commentary by Mary Barclay

While many of us were sleeping Nov. 19, 32 members of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church rose early and braved the cold and sleet to build a Bethlehem.

Since 1999, every other year we prepare, produce and give to the community “Holy Walk to Bethlehem” on our church property, 4780 E. 126th St., in Carmel. What makes Holy Walk significant is that it requires the entire church to commit to create a Connor Prairie-style interactive journey detailing Mary and Joseph’s journey as they went from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted for the census. This year’s event will be from 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3.

I am fortunate to have a unique window into this church undertaking, having had family members who have played roles as diverse as angels, shepherds, Roman guards, the inn keeper, census taker and even Joseph. For several years, I remained indoors to sing Christmas carols and solos for attendees eagerly awaiting the journey.

Others prepare and serve food for the cast, usher or costume helpers for the littlest angels and shepherds (we have three rotating groups of little cherubs). Church members do not break character and are committed to giving everyone who attends the same experiential delight.

Led along a lighted path by a trusty guide and assistant, participants hear a choir of angels, meet prophets, three wise men, an innkeeper, Roman guards and an entire village of characters selling wares or tending live animals.

The best part of Holy Walk is its spirit of cooperation, community and unity. Our message is to welcome everyone, offer an extraordinary journey and serve free cocoa, tea and cookies baked by many more church members at the end of the walk at the Coco Café. Simply stated, we seek to spread messages of love, light and wonder, and it is a gift to be shared by everyone. We hope you will join us.

Mary Barclay has lived in Carmel for 15 years and is a mother of two children, having sent one to IU in the fall. She is passionately committed to the arts, animal welfare and the community. At present, she and her daughter help foster kittens and volunteer weekly for the Pals for Paws program at the Carmel Petco.

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