24 Dec 2020

For those of you who didn’t make it to our Nativity Trail here is the story (scroll through the gallery below) that was dotted around the village, a big thank you to the Gen2 youth ministry from the Diocese of Peterborough for the script of the story. See if you can work out the secret message hidden in the pictures.

Thanks for all your support of the Youth Project, we have so loved doing this year’s advent challenge with you.

We pray that you are able to enjoy Christmas whatever you are doing, but more than that we pray that you are able to experience the hope, peace, joy, and love that comes of knowing Jesus.

The Beginning
From the beginning the men of old had foreseen the day when God Himself would come and make His home with us. The prophets declared it, and all of Israel awaited His arrival and the centuries passed…. Surely the day would come.
And then the heavenly orders were given, the plan was set into motion as God’s messengers carried the heavenly design.

Angel Gabriel and Mary
It was in the 6th month, in a plain, little Israeli town of white-washed houses surrounded by fields, Nazareth of Galilee, where a young woman, soon to be married to Joseph, was getting on with her daily life. Her name was Mary.
God’s messenger approached Mary’s home, drew back the heavenly curtain to announce the heavenly orders. Angel Gabriel greeted Mary;
“Mary it is good to see you! You have made God smile. You have won the highest of honours! The Lord God is with you.”
Mary was afraid – what was this all about? So the Angel Gabriel continued:
“Don’t be frightened Mary – You are God’s pride and joy and He delights in you. You are going to have a baby son. He is the One that everyone is waiting for – God’s King , the Son
of God.”
Mary asked,
“How will this be, since I am not married yet?
Angel Gabriel replied,
“The Holy Spirit will come over you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. The Lord God is His Father.”
Mary trusted God and agreed to God’s plan,
“I am the Lord’s servant and I shall be glad to do whatever God wants.”

Joseph and the Angel Gabriel
Joseph was a good man, a carpenter. When he heard the news about Mary having a baby, he didn’t think they could get married anymore. He did not want to shame her, but quietly bring an end to their future plans to be married. But God had other plans and wanted Joseph to be the baby’s step dad. That night, when Joseph was sleeping , an angel appeared in Joseph’s dream and said:
“Joseph, Joseph, do not be afraid. Take Mary as your wife. She is going to have God’s very
own Son. Call the baby, ‘Jesus’ – He is the One everyone has been waiting for – He is the
very One who will rescue everyone.”
Joseph awoke with new hope, a changed heart and new resolve. He married Mary, as the
Angel had told him to, and took care of her.

Journey to Bethlehem
Nearly 9 months later, during the time when Caesar Augustus ruled, Joseph had to travel to his home town to be counted with all the other people by the Romans in a census. It meant leaving his hometown Nazareth with Mary and travelling all the way to Bethlehem.
It was a long journey through hills, woods and trails – about 30 miles (from here to Gloucester!). Perhaps they travelled by donkey?

Welcome to Bethlehem
You’ve made it to Bethlehem! Now, I wonder if Mary and Joseph can find somewhere to stop and rest?

No Room at The Inn
When Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem, it was full of people who had arrived to be counted like Joseph. They started to look for a place to stay as the baby was soon to be born. Perhaps they knocked on many inn doors.
Over and over, the reply was:
“No room – there’s no room at the inn!”
Not one spare room, not one spare bed, every inn was full. Until, someone offered the only place they had:
“Around the back…”

God Is With Us
All that was left was the place kept for animals, the donkeys and the sheep – a stable. That very night, Mary’s baby was born. Joseph named the baby ‘Jesus’ which means ‘God saves’.
Mary tenderly wrapped him up in cloths, called ‘swaddling bands’. Mary had no cot or Moses Basket to lay him down for his first sleep, so instead she laid him in the animals’ feeding trough, the manger. There Jesus sleeps – 10 toes, 10 little fingers, warm olive skin, milky chin, breathing our air with us, making his home with us.

The Shepherds and the Angels
That very birthday night, on the hillside surrounding the town of Bethlehem, the local shepherds kept watch over their sheep. The Shepherds drew their cloaks around them for another night out with their sheep. When all of a sudden, the air changed and something stood out in the sky:
An Angel of the Lord appeared before them and the glory of the Lord shone all around. Heaven’s joy was exploding all around them. The Shepherds were terrified.
The Angel announced to them:
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news – full of great joy for everyone. Today in the Royal city of Bethlehem, the Life-Saver has been born to you. The boy is God’s promised Son. Go have a look for yourself. You will know it is Him as you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly, the sky lit up with a whole cascade of angels, hundreds of angels singing with God’s praises:
“Glory to God in the highest ~ This is all about peace to you, your families, your loved ones and neighbours! This is all about peace for this planet! This is all about God’s favour, love and Him resting with you!”

Have You Heard!?
When the Angels left, the Shepherds agreed to go and find the baby:
“Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this baby that God as told us about.”
They found Mary and Joseph, and there was the little baby, lying in the cattle trough, in a stable. Before they went back to the fields they told everyone about what had happened;
“Have you not heard? Have you not seen? The God child has arrived!”
The amazing news about the stable boy spread. And Mary? Well, she treasured these things up in her heart. The shepherds? They returned to their sheep on the hills, but as changed men – now praising God who had shown them the gift of His stable boy living among them.”

The Wise Men, Stars and Gifts for a King 
On another night, God nudged the brightest star and sent it floating across the night sky. Who would look up and see? This time, not locals in Bethlehem, but foreigners from the East noticed God’s signpost. They were wise men who studied their writings and discovered that this new star meant that God’s King had been born.
The wise men decided to go and find the new king:
“We need to find the new king, to bow down to Him and give Him our gifts.
The wise men packed their bags and set of to find the King. It was a long journey, perhaps they went by camel. They travelled over hills following the star, through valleys following the star, through woods following the star, through fields and towns following the star, until they arrived in Bethlehem…

The Final Scene
The bright light of the star filled them with joy, and they followed its spotlight until they found the exact place where Mary, Joseph and Jesus were staying.
They came in and bowed down to the boy and gave Him their gifts:
“I offer you gold fit for a king.”
“I offer you frankincense, a beautiful scent pleasing to God.”
“I offer you myrrh, a soothing ointment.”
They went home, full of God in their hearts having met Jesus, God with us.

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