The Shallowford Nativity: ‘Like the Winter Rains’

Sunday Morning – 6th December 2015. Bethlehem is in the hill country of Judah, and I expect in season they got their share of wind and rain and mud. We are re-creating our own Bethlehem in the hill country of Dartmoor for the Shallowford Nativity tonight. We have already had our share of wind, shaking in the night, rattling the tin roofs of the sheds, crying down the chimneys, and our share of rain – as soon as we cleared some puddles more appeared. At least we have got the mud out of the yard and the drive – pretty much. This morning there is a yellowy light at sunrise, with the hint of colour over Barn Park, but all around elsewhere the sky is grey. It is a soft rain for now, but the wind gusts the spray across the shed roofs.

There are five of us from Providence who have been here since Thursday and have joined the team, working through the wind and rain to get every ready for the event.

kingOn Saturday a minibus of Providence young people arrived, had a chance to give a hand, and try on some costumes. This morning they will help some more, after lunch go the to
village, join in with the local community at the Parish church for a Christingle service, which will be a different for most. Then back in time for the Shallowford Nativity.

Meanwhile, in the hill country of Dartmoor today we are hoping for a window in the weather today.

Sunday evening – 6th December 2015. 

shepherdsThe rain came to our Bethlehem on the moor, but it came without wind, for which we were thankful, and it fell gently, and refreshing. There is an old prophecy that the Christ will come like the rains, that to a generation torn apart, he will come to bind the wounds of the injured, and that on the third day he will revive and restore us to his presence.

So our Bethlehem was a gathering of a few short of one hundred, huddled into the courtyard of the ancient farm, and following the whole passage of the story – of a people under Roman rule and the demand of taxation, of Mary and Joseph wearily travelling and on arrival every door being closed to them, until the inn keeper showed them a stable; of the dark field behind the buildings and flickering lanterns and barely visible dark shadows of restless sheep, and suddenly bright lights and angels silhouetted against the brightness, Barnand the sweetness of singing – ‘O Holy night, the stars are brightly shining‘ – and silence as people listened, and frightened shepherd faces, boys and men; of shepherds to the stable gathered round the scene, the sound of a baby crying, and the quiet breathing of the sheep; and, of course, the procession of wise men, the sound of music and drumming, of page boys carrying gifts, and stately men as magi, and the whole bright tableau and entranced faces watching. It was good to be there in the damp and be reminded of the timeless story of a Saviour’s birth.

Robert Musgrave
7th December 2015

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