Despite some blustery conditions and a night requiring the warmest of clothing, the greatest story ever told was taken out around a rural community by members of their village church.
Up to 350 people – including adults and children – turned out to watch and follow The Travelling Nativity produced by members of Inglewhite Congregational Church which was just that – the story of Jesus’ birth literally moving from venue to venue around the village.
There were two performances, written and produced by church member Helen Hardman, and from the first moment, gathered deep in the heart of a resident’s garden, the scene was set as the crowd gathered around to hear Oh Holy Night as the church’s young dancers movingly performed and the “Heavenly Choir” sang.
Through to Mary at work in her kitchen, to the arrival of the Angel Gabriel and the news of Jesus’ impending birth being given to Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men, the crowd then moved off to see Mary, sharing the thought they were going to have to “to trust God on this one.....nothing is impossible with God” astride a real donkey, and Joseph, on their way to Bethlehem.
The crowd too, continued their journey out onto the village green, where there really were shepherds abiding in the “fields” by night, watching their real sheep; to the real inn and innkeeper, where Mary and Joseph were told there would be no room for them to stay and would have to settle for the stable (situated within another village property).
After some rousing singing of Oh Come all ye Faithful it was then onto “Herod’s Place” in Sanderson’s yard for the audience, and from there to the stable, to see ‘baby Jesus’ and finally, to the church and much rejoicing of the birth, and welcome refreshments. Pastor John Irwin said: “The performances went well apart from the sheep escaping at one point. They had to be chased down the road, but were rescued by the police and stewards. But it was good and everybody seemed to go away feeling quite blessed by the real meaning of Christmas.
“For all of us it is a time of celebrating with those we love and care about and it’s good to remember that it all started with God’s great gift to us in the sending of His son into the world.
“May God bless you and all whom you love with a sense of His love and presence this Christmas.” Tickets were free, but donations were taken for Tear Fund, to help the refugees of Syria and Iraq, which had risen to around £150 earlier this week, with more still coming in. This was the third time Inglewhite Chuch has staged The Travelling Nativity, written and directed by Helen Hardman.
Cast members were: Opening song and dance - Julie Copeland and girls, Mary - Emily Kirby, Joseph - John Kirby, Mary’s mother - Pat Lister, Angel Gabriel - Alice Hardman, Heavenly Choir - Church members directed by Ruth MacMurchie and Alison Kelsall, Three Wise Men - Dave Talbot, Peter Booth and Andy Wright, Shepherds - Steve Kelsall, Jack Talbot and Andy Talbot, Innkeeper - Alex from the Green Man, Herod - John Lockley, Chief Priest - Josh Kelsall, Herod’s Court - Oscar Foot, Roman soldiers - Dion de Villiers and Denis Every, Master of ceremonies - Stephen Hardman and ‘Young Jesus’ - Thomas Irwin.