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Auburn Adventist Academy Church presents Journey to Bethlehem
Auburn Adventist Academy Church presents Journey to Bethlehem, an interactive outdoor drama production, to be performed throughout the first full weekend of December.
The community Christmas play runs four nights from Thursday to Sunday, Dec. 6-9. Tours run between 5:30 and 9 p.m. Each ticketed tour lasts about 45 minutes.
The production accommodates about 6,500-7,000 guests.
Free tickets for this year's production were all reserved within two weeks in early November, representing a "no more room in the inn" scenario much like 2,000 years ago when Joseph and Mary tried to find housing in Bethlehem.
While guests wait for their tour time, local musicians provide a holiday concert. The concert-while-you-wait includes vocal solos and duets, choirs, orchestra, brass ensemble, piano and organ selections and much more.
The script name this year is "The Prodigal Son" and it is written by Wilma Bing, Jennifer McGhee and Jondelle McGhee (all from AAA Church).
In the story, Caleb and Mariah offer to be caravan leaders to take people to register for the census. Caleb (the prodigal son) carries his father's medallion and the people he meets along the way recognize him. They stop by the temple in Jerusalem to pick up a neighbor's daughter, Leah, and to visit with temple leaders Simeon and Anna.
Once on the journey, the traveling caravan checks out the Last Chance Emporium, visits at the Wiseman Camp, visits with the prophet Joel, and enters the City of Bethlehem. Bethlehem offers a marketplace bazaar and the filled-to-overflowing Inn of Bethlehem.
Further into the city, the travelers come to the Celebration House where they eventually encounter the Roman Guards who escort them into the Census Room. Caleb's medallion is confiscated and the travelers are expelled from the city. The travelers find a place to stay with shepherds in the field and are surprised when the hosts of angels appear bringing glad tidings of great joy. The travelers make their way to the manger where Caleb finds the One who delivers him from his past and gives him a future.
As the journey comes to an end, Caleb and Mariah go "home" to reunite with Caleb's father.
History and background
Journey to Bethlehem began in 2006 and is now in its seventh year. Volunteers built a temporary set in the church parking lot for the first two years, and then constructed a permanent set for the city of Bethlehem in 2008. Planning for this event starts in April and set construction and setup begins in October.
Journey to Bethlehem represents an intergenerational ministry with volunteers from the age of one month to 75-plus years of age. More than 200 students from Auburn Adventist Academy are involved.
The first year about 100 costumed actors in handmade costumes made up the cast. In 2012, 360 costumed actors are working together to provide a holiday experience to share one of the greatest stories ever told. About 200 people assist with supporting roles by serving people behind the scenes and 250 musicians share their ministry of music. The role of baby Jesus features, among other babies this year, two sets of twins.
Church and community partners are also involved in this production. The production brings people together for acting, behind-the-scenes assistance, music performance, animal care and more. More than 10 area churches of various denominations are involved.
Auburn Food Bank is a partner with Journey to Bethlehem – a long-standing commitment to giving back to the community. Guests are invited to give a donation at the end of their journey to help community families in need enjoy the warmth of the season. To date, more than $18,000 has been raised for the food bank through this partnership.
Church website: aaachurch.org.
Journey to Bethlehem's website: j2binfo.org.
Photos from past productions are available at: j2bphotos.smugmug.com.
PHOTO BELOW: Joseph (John Hoffman) and Mary (Molly Hoffman) and Baby Jesus (Landon Clifford).
Rachel Ciampi, Auburn Reporter