This past Saturday night over 150 volunteers from our church came together to share the birth story of Jesus with our community. About 250 cars drove through the Journey to Bethlehem Live Nativity. Unfortunately at least three times that many were unable to experience the journey. The turnout was, to say the least, overwhelming. It felt as though the prophesy from Isaiah came true in our midst, “the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established … peoples will stream toward it” (Isaiah 2:2).
I know many traveled long distances to make the Journey to Bethlehem, some as far away as Oklahoma. I also know many were in line for over two hours only to have individuals cut in line in front of you, and then be turned away by one of our church volunteers or by the Plano Police Department who intervened for safety concerns around the traffic our event generated. It pains my heart that not everyone who drove to Plano could experience our event, for it was meaningful to the many who were able to drive through. It would never be our intention to say, “There is no room in the inn” to anyone coming to our church.
For the past 12 years, one Sunday School class has planned, organized and produced our Journey to Bethlehem event. This year’s response through Facebook went far beyond our most optimistic scenarios based on those 12 years of history. While we were thrilled with the response, we regret deeply that we were unprepared and unable to accommodate the flood of yearning that your coming represented Saturday. Rest assured that meetings are already in place to discuss lessons learned and how we will re-work Journey to Bethlehem to accommodate many more next year. We will be better equipped to resolve traffic issues next year.
To hopefully ease your disappointment, I would like to extend a number of invitations to you this Christmas season in order to experience the joy of the Christ child’s birth:
On Sunday, Dec. 9, our choirs orchestra will present a Behold, A Savior! Christmas Cantata at our 8:30 and 11 a.m. services. At 9:45 a.m. our Contemporary Worship Team will have a Christmas Rocks! concert with sing-along carols and a visit from Santa Claus himself.
On Sunday, Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. we will have a Christmas Pops Concert with contemporary and popular music of the season for the entire family, and Santa Claus will make another appearance.
On Tuesday, Dec. 24, at 3, 5, 7 and 10 p.m., we will host Christmas Eve Candlelight and Communion Services for the whole family.
Parking and seating are plentiful for all of these. As much disappointment our church family feels for our not being able to host many of you last Saturday night, we feel hope, eagerness and honor in being able to host you in the coming days. I hope you will give us that chance.
Grace and Peace to you in this season of peace and hope,