Bethlehem revisited at Tyronza

Friday, December 21, 2001

What once was a dingy, dirty old basement of a beautiful church building was transformed Saturday night to Bethlehem. The First Baptist Church of Tyronza joined forces and their many human resources to create a haven for weary and rained soaked travelers that could be compared to a Hollywood set.

Some 100 visitors and countless volunteer members were on hand to enjoy their handy work and achieve a very real sense of going back in time 2000 years to a time we have all read about and seen recreated in the movies.

The centurion soldiers at the 'gate', Chris Collier, Daniel woods, Matt McDaniel, and Brandon "BoBo" Fortenberry welcomed guests with the look of serious warriors, if not the demeanor. The joy and excitement of the occasion was apparent on the faces of all participants, including the warriors, so fear was out of character at this Bethlehem.

That excitement was transferred to all who entered the gate and were greeted with days of old, streets of the city ablaze with activity and tradesmen 'selling' their wares. Exhibits of weaving, blacksmith, tanner, carpenter, potter, bread maker, spices, basket maker and various other trades were so real, but with a special message to the visitor. The bread maker's gift contained the 'bread of life' message of John 3:35, the basket maker's message was Exodus 2:3, and so it was with each exhibit, a message for the heart, made from hands for everyone.

Oddly, many of the characters looked so familiar. The weaver, guarding the exit looked much like the postmaster (retired), Thelma Jett and the baker struck a resemblance to Virginia Layman.

The 'peace de resistance' was found at the far end of town. Two beautiful angels watched over the Nativity scene that captured the essence of the event it depicted. Another creative set, the baby in the manger, the parents and those in awe of the child and the grandeur of the event, made it the very special corner of town.

Yes, a lot of Bethlehem was available Saturday and Sunday evening in the form of happy, dedicated performers with a message. And, like the event it depicted, it was a sight to behold.

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