By GWEN SISSON
Visitors will have the opportunity to pay taxes in Bethlehem, just like Mary and Joseph, at Experiencing Bethlehem, beginning tonight at Starkvilleâ€™s First United Methodist Church.
â€śThe more we can help people realize that the Bethlehem marketplace was a real place with real merchants, the more people will realize that Jesus was a real person,â€ť said Jane Windham, one of the organizers for the event.
Experiencing Bethlehem begins tonight from 5 to 8 p.m. The event will continue each night through Sunday.
Ted Beverly, another organizer for the event, said this will be a hands-on experience that makes the Christ Child more real.
â€śDuring this time, people in Bethlehem were looking for the Messiah to come,â€ť Beverly said.
â€śThere was a sense of urgency, but they were also going about their daily lives. They were not realizing whatâ€™s happening around the corner in their own hometown.â€ť
Ticket holders will experience the excitement of walking through the city of Bethlehem during the time of the birth of Jesus Christ.
This marketplace experience will feature Roman soldiers, tax collectors and Census takers. There will be a grapepress, a bakery, a brickmaker, a miller, and a carpenter, among many other workers. The innkeeper will tell the story of Mary and Joseph.
A short walk away, the holy family will be found outside in the stable.
The live nativity will also include live animals.
The live nativity is the only area of event that will outside. The marketplace will be located in the churchâ€™s Family Life Center.
Experiencing Bethlehem will also feature the First UMC Music Ministries performing in the upstairs track area of the Family Life Center.
The project is sponsored by the First UMC Childrenâ€™s Ministries and Music Ministries.