Last night, at 7pm the townspeople of Norwich gathered at the Town Hall. Adults and children waited in the chilly air for a special guest to arrive. A booming voice announced the biblical passage that begins the story of Jesus birth with Mary and Joseph’s trip to Bethlehem to register for a census for future taxing by the Roman Empire. Just then, a woman clad in robes upon a donkey and escorted by a robed man carrying a staff appeared as they approached on Main Street.
Once they passed those lining the street, the townspeople fell in behind them and sang Christmas hymns as we traveled to the Norwich Inn. The Inn Keeper, also dressed in period robes answered the door when Joseph knocked but unfortunately, she had to turn away the guests because alas, there was no room at her Inn for them. She informed them that there was a stable nearby where they may find shelter for one night.
Joseph led Mary and the Donkey away from the Inn and further North on Main Street. As they continued, the crowd stopped at a scene where shepherds were gathered around a roaring fire and an Angel appeared to them and told them of the birth of the Messiah.
And so the townsfolk, still singing, joined the angles, the wise men and the shepherds as we traveled further down the road and toward the star. We turned to our left and walked toward a barn where a great star hung high to guide us. And there, the doors were opened to reveal a babe swaddled in cloth and lying in a manger.
When the story ended, the children carried canned goods to leave in the manger to be delivered to the Haven, our shelter for the homeless and disadvantaged. Then we all walked back to the Inn to enjoy hot cocoa, beer and wine and carols on the piano. It is just such lovely, community events that make Norwich a special place. I will never forget this beautiful experience.