The streets of the small village were filled with spectators as the young Joseph and his wife Mary sought a place to stay for the night as they awaited the birth of their child.
“I have no room at the inn. The inn is filled,” The inn keeper called out.
The young Joseph pleaded for just any space.
“If you wish, there is a stable on the edge of town,” the inn keeper said responding to the pleas of the couple.
“Let’s go there,” Joseph said as they were led to the straw filled stable.
Soon the birth of the baby Jesus came and the news was spread to the Kings who came to worship the new king.
The scene was a permanent replica of the city of Bethlehem recreated by volunteers beside the Central Presbyterian Church. Mary, Joseph, the tax collector, the three wise men and the close to 100 other actors are volunteers that return year after year to be a part of the portrayal.
“Many of the characters have been with us since the beginning, 18 years ago. The stone cutter, fisherman and the potter are among those who started with us,” set designer Robin Guy said.
Writing the scripts and working with the actors is Andy Reynolds, the theatre teacher at Waxahachie High School.
While not a veteran since the beginning, Reynolds has been with the production for six years.
“I wanted to get more involved in the community to share my experience and talents to give back for the support I have received. I received a phone call asking if I would fill the artistic director’s position. After talking to my wife and praying about it, I said yes,” Reynolds said.
The streets were filled with many craftsmen giving demonstrations and explaining their craft.
“As I walk through the crowds, what is even more rewarding than seeing the performers stay in character while greeting the guests is seeing mothers, fathers and grandparents with their small children explaining what they are seeing and experiencing. The message is crystal clear,” Reynolds said.
“What is really rewarding is knowing the for many children and some adults, that this is the first experience these people have learning a bible story,” Reynolds said.
The rug weaver asked as a young observer passed, “Can I have some of your hair to weave me a hat?”
He then shows a hat that he weaved 14 years ago saying, “A camel gave me this hair 14 years ago so I could make this hat to keep my head warm,” the weaver said.
While the craftsmen were demonstrating the skills, an elder held a Hebrew school explaining the meaning of the Hebrew symbols and his prayer shawl.
While the basket weavers created their baskets from straw, the girls in the shop peddled the baskets saying, “This is a very fine basket for just a few sheckels.”
The scene is repeated every 30 minutes beginning with the entrance of Joseph and Mary to the three kings being commissioned by Herod’s Court to seek out the new savior.
This year’s director Elizabeth Tull, who has been working with the project since its beginning.
“I have seen it grow every year to what it is now. In the beginning we had around 35 actors. This year we have over 100 costumed actors plus another 100 support staff for this year’s production.” Tull said.
Bethlehem Revisited began 18 years ago with a dream of Hilda Chapman and assisted by Tull.
“This is the first year without Hilda since her passing earlier this year. We are trying to keep her spirit alive doing things the way she would have done them,” Tull said.
Another passing Bethlehem Revisited had this year was the flute maker. “He was one of the original cast members. He was a fabulous entertainer with w dry since of humor. We really enjoyed him every year. He will be missed,” Tull said.
A memorial plaque was to be placed in the shop he once occupied playing demonstrating the many flutes he made.
“He would make flutes through the year to sell to help raise money to support Bethlehem Revisited. We still have some of his flutes,” Tull said.
Bethlehem Revisited is located at 200 N. College Street behind the Central Presbyterian Church. The show will continue from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 7 and Dec. 12-14.