The Astbury Village Nativity
From the moment the booming voice of the Roman soldier roared out from the top of the Rectory steps announcing the coming census and ordering one and all to go to the town of their birth to register, the 250 strong crowd who had assembled for the first Astbury Live Nativity were enthralled by the spectacle. Armed with torches, glow sticks and carol sheets we made our way from the Rectory toward the Egerton Arms where the landlord threw open the doors to tell us in no uncertain terms to sling our collective hooks, just as he’d told the nice couple with the donkey who’d been there a few minutes before. He softened considerably when he noticed that none of us had livestock and offered reasonable rates for hard cash!
We then moved on to the Village Hall at which point there were voices raised and fingers pointed toward the bell tower of the church. High up on the parapet an angel, wings shimmering, halo glistening, had been illuminated in bright light. It was a stunning effect, and the angel pointed us toward some shepherds in a nearby paddock. We sang to them and in return they told us of the news the angel had brought: that a child had been born in a barn not too far away.
One of the shepherds then helpfully offered to lead us to the very place, so we stopped the traffic on the Nazareth to Bethlehem road and headed over to Glebe Farm where we met with a friendly innkeeper who directed us round to his barn where we were met with a fantastic scene: hundreds of bales of hay to sit on, Mary and Joseph sitting serenely with a newborn infant, to their right, sheep and goats were penned, to their left, Tilly the donkey who brayed along surprisingly tunefully to Silent Night. A huge star lit up the whole tableau. We sang carols, saw the shepherds and the Wise Men arrive (some debate over the wisdom of some of the Wise Men once identities had been established!) and had the nativity rounded off with the Rector singing his re-writing of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah.
The evening concluded with mulled wine, hot chocolate and tables literally groaning with mince pies and tray bakes.
It was a wonderful evening which many will be hoping will become an annual event in the Astbury calendar.
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