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A journey to the Christmas spirit
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After living in the Valley for the past 11 years, I have finally made the journey to Bethlehem.
I am, of course, talking about Grace Community Church’s annual Christmas event “Journey to Bethlehem.” The Ceres church’s interactive drama allows visitors to experience the Christmas story as fellow travelers to Bethlehem at the time of Joseph and Mary’s famous trek.
Just like at Disneyland, people come from all over the region and wait in line for hours to be a part of the magic. But unlike the Magic Kingdom, the harsh realities of history have not been glossed over with a catchy show tune. While the Christmas story has much less violence and gore than the Passion, those overbearing and downright tyrannical Roman soldiers give “Journey to Bethlehem” a taste of the oppression and persecution Jews faced at the time of Christ’s birth.
“Journey” was like visiting one of those historic pioneer villages where all the employees are in character, but better because you have a goal to accomplish, namely, finding Bethlehem and the Christ child.
I encourage everyone who might be feeling like the holiday season is all about consumerism to take the time to go out to “Journey.” If the retelling of Christ’s birth does not inspire you, then the obvious dedication and self-sacrifice of the hundreds of church volunteers will. This annual event is free to the public. The church hosts “Journey” every year as a Christmas present to the community. I think it is a good reminder that even if you have no money with which to buy Christmas presents or host a holiday feast, you can celebrate the season with service to others.
In fact, I think we should start a nation-wide trend here in Turlock of making Christmas all about volunteering. Instead of planning an office holiday bash, local businesses can give employees an afternoon off to pack boxes of food and toys for Turlock Together.
Families can plan baking days with every family member from the oldest to the youngest taking part and then give the fruits of their labor to local homeless men and women. Empty nesters and those without family members close by can opt to spend Dec. 25 serving food at the Salvation Army’s annual Christmas lunch.
There are no shortages of ways to give back to those in need. All you need to have is the will to give. I know I may be preaching to the choir, as I have been amazed time and again at the generosity of local residents. But if you are one of those who see Christmas as a time to shop and nothing more, I urge you to leave the crowd-filled malls and traffic jams behind and give of yourself this holiday season.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.