This past week at GCC we had a very special Chapel centering on Jesus’ birth found in the Gospel of Matthew 1:18-2:12. The Chapel will probably be forever remembered as the ‘Camel Chapel’. You see three real-live camels and their handlers (wise men) led all Middle and Senior School students into a very special outdoor chapel. In the woods, they were met with Christmas carols, sheep, goats, chickens and a couple of students who played Mary and Joseph. For most of our students, this was their very introduction to the brand-new outdoor chapel created in 2020 as a legacy project by the Year 12 cohort and Bert Kasselman.
Students were involved in every aspect of this Chapel as the Year 9 Faith and Community team planned the event. There was a student choir which sang traditional Christmas carols. Others donned costumes for our Mary and Joseph roles, then a couple of the Pastors read scripture and students prayed.
Why camels? Camels were used because we wanted the students to picture this day like the first Christmas. Camels would have been the transportation of choice for the wise men. We wanted to put our students up close and personal to these very real animals so they could picture the Christmas story as more than just folklore but a real time in history. Throughout their lives they’ll never forget the ‘Chapel with Camels’.
When the wise men (Magi) travelled from the east following a star across the desert all the way to Bethlehem where Jesus was. The word for wise men is magi and is connected to the word for magic but these men were probably astronomers. They came from the east, but where exactly we are not sure. Many believe they probably came from Babylon (modern day Iraq), Persia (Iran) or Arabia (Saudi Arabia or Yemen). A few historians believe they came as far as India or China. The journey would have taken the magi at minimum 40-50 days to pursue this anomaly in the sky. These men were most likely not three kings but a large team of astronomers. They brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for Jesus and his family. Frankincense and myrrh were both used in perfumes and as incense. These gifts were extravagant for a little family from Nazareth.
The wise men came to see and worship the King of the Jews as prophesied by Micah, hundreds of years earlier. When they finally arrived in Jerusalem, overwhelmed with joy they fell to their knees and worshipped Jesus. When you celebrate Christmas this year, opening your own gifts, would you take time to ponder what it would have been like underneath that star?
Syd Moore, College Pastor