Road to Bethlehem teams around Australia and New Zealand are preparing for larger crowds as they again prepare to tell the story of Jesus’ birth after the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Something has changed in our communities after COVID, but now more than ever it is important to create spaces and times for people to come together,” said Nathan Hall, chair of the Road to Bethlehem organising committee in Melbourne. “People are more stressed and busy, and it is harder to get volunteers, but these are markers that community spaces are more important. It is an opening for people to meet together, to meet the Baby Jesus and have the opportunity to respond.”
This year, Road to Bethlehem runs in Melbourne from December 4 to 7 on the grounds of Edinburgh College, Lilydale. Last year saw the first return to an in-person event after COVID, but weather—including the abandonment of one evening’s program—limited crowds to about 9000 people. Now, in its 29th year, 14,000 tickets were pre-booked in the first week of availability and, with further tickets available on site each evening, crowd records could be challenged.
“We have tried to streamline our operations somewhat this year, but the program itself is largely unchanged,” said Mr Hall. “We hope that people who attend feel welcome, then lose themselves a little bit in the walk through the story. That they would feel transported to a place away from the busyness of 2023 and through that journey have a reflective experience of the story of Jesus and what that means for them in this time.”
Road to Bethlehem events are also underway or in preparation in Sydney (November 26–27), Central Coast (December 11–13), Mildura (December 12–14) and Christchurch (December 18–21).
Visit RoadtoBethlehem.org for more information.