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FAITH & FAMILY — “Journey to Bethlehem” this weekend at Wesley UMC in Nederland

NEDERLAND — Presenting the story of the birth of Jesus Christ with the live action performance “Journey to Bethlehem” is in its 28th year at Wesley United Methodist Church in Nederland.

For 12 shows over three nights, upward of 200 church members take part with main roles to townspeople to helping the public at the Bethlehem Market to the role of baby Jesus, which is played by a real life baby.

The shows, which are free, will be held today, Saturday and Sunday at 6 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. at 3515 Helena Ave. in Nederland.

Shane and Karen Landry will be one of the couples portraying Joseph and Mary in the production of Journey to Bethlehem at Wesley United Methodist Church in Nederland on Today, Saturday and Sunday. (Mary Meaux/The News)

New this year is the “Passport,” where visitors travel the grounds and have their passport stamped at each spot indicated. From there they will turn the passport in to the table in front of the sanctuary for a prize.

There will also be free hot chocolate and children’s activities in the Christian Life Center, also known as the Bethlehem Market. Plus the Prayer Garden will have baby animals for children to pet.

It is all a labor of love and has deep spiritual meaning for those involved.

Nativity director Patsy Wagner, 81, has been part of the event for approximately 25 of the 28 years. She said the nativity play tells the story from the time the angel goes to Mary with the message that she will be with child through Jesus’ birth.

When asked to describe what it feels like to be part of the Journey to Bethlehem, she was quick to answer — “You want me to cry?”

“The spot I sit is a stool by the manger and when I looked up at the cross on the church I thought of what it meant to so many,” Wagner said as she described seeing the moon’s glow though the trees by the cross. “It touches your heart.”

In her heart she goes back to thoughts of what God has done for everyone just to be there in that moment.

Those who attend the show will also see a variety of animals including a camel, goats, sheep and a donkey.

Karen and Shane Landry will be one of the couples portraying Mary and Joseph. They have done so for the past decade.

“It is an amazing experience to be able to share with the community and after the show to sit and take pictures,” Karen said.

Shane agrees, reflecting on the importance of the birth of Christ and to see others’ excitement.

The community is welcome to attend Wesley United Methodist Church in Nederland this weekend for “Journey to Bethlehem.”