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Biblical city comes to life during Main Street Bethlehem in Burnet

First Baptist Church of Burnet hosts Main Street Bethlehem on Dec. 3-5 and 10-12. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

Experience the excitement on the streets of Bethlehem as its residents exchange gossip about a newborn babe destined to be king. Tax collectors, merchants, innkeepers, and weary travelers line the streets interacting with modern-day visitors during the two weekends of Main Street Bethlehem at 300 E. Washington St. in downtown Burnet.

An online reservation system has been set up this year for timed entry, but rest assured, admission is still free. (Donations are appreciated!) Book your times now.

Hours are 6-9 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Dec. 3-5 and 10-12. No backpacks are allowed inside the gates.

Main Street Bethlehem began in 1993 as a gift from First Baptist Church of Burnet to everyone. The event originally consisted of a few wooden flats with sheets hung between to divide the stalls. It now takes up an entire city block in a movie-quality set built to represent the downtown streets of Bethlehem during the time of Jesus’ birth. When you walk through the gates, you immediately step back into another era. Costumed re-enactors shop, pay taxes, and talk of the times as children run between their feet. Camels munch on hay as a blacksmith works his forge. Women make candles and cook bread. Shepherds wind through the crowd telling of the angels that appeared to them as they tended their flock in the hills. Arguments break out as some deny that such glory could come to a small, poor place like Bethlehem.

All streets eventually lead to the ultimate scene, a cave where Jesus and Mary tend to the baby Jesus in the manger where he was born. The atmosphere becomes quiet and reverent as the noise of the town fades before the miracle of birth and promise.

“I think everybody gets frustrated with the commercialization of Christmas,” said the Rev. Doug Lindley of First Baptist-Burnet. “(Main Street Bethlehem) is one way to come back to the reason for Christmas, and that’s Jesus.”

Main Street Bethlehem is an outdoor event, so rain and inclement weather can lead to cancellation for the day. Check the First Baptist Church of Burnet’s website at noon each day for updates.

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