"I've always wanted to have some kind of informal holiday service in the barn on Christmas Eve; an opportunity to heighten awareness, through the senses, from that magical night in a stable so long ago."
"Let's talk," said Lawrence Bartel, the Pastor of Niccolls Church in Old Forge. He and his family were attending An Author's Fair at Moose River Farm. From this initial exchange of thoughts last August, "Come to the Stable" materialized on the 24th of December. The object of the event was to infuse the miracle of the Christmas story with living animals whose ancestors may have been present on the first Christmas Eve.
Despite a -4 degree temperature, approximately 175 people, bundled in heavy layers, gathered within MRF's indoor riding arena. There a living nativity, enhanced by light scripture and beautiful song, warmed our souls and lifted our spirits. Rising puffs of breath from donkeys, horses and goats, not to mention the sweet aroma of the barn, instilled a sense of peace on such a frigid night.
Afterward, delicious homemade horse treats were offered to all of the animals. Cups of steaming hot chocolate encouraged parishioners to linger among the animals and to extend feelings of goodwill with each other just a little bit longer....The following photographs capture highlights from this merry event. Can you feel the magic too?
Photos by Dawn Montayne and Amy Bartel
MRF's indoor riding arena transforms into a cathedral on Christmas Eve.
Niccolls Church Choir fills the space with angelic song.
The heated tackroom provides a place to escape the bitter cold.
Tango prepares for his role as transportation for the Angel of the Lord.
Target greets a visitor.
Reverend Bartel introduces Elizabeth the hen to children.
The family Swick play the roles of the Nativity's main characters.
Homemade horse treats are offered to all of the animals.
Liam the goat represents all ruminants who may have attended the birth of Christ.
Huxley the Dachshund, peeks out of a coat that kept him snugly warm.
Bing and Frankie entertain the crowd with their antics.
Two full school buses provide transportation to the farm.