Birth of Christ comes to lifeThe story of the birth of Christ came to life once again at First Lutheran Church in Alexandria December 13-14. For the 23rd year, the church presented its Living Nativity.
By: Jo Colvin, Alexandria Echo Press
The story of the birth of Christ came to life once again at First Lutheran Church in Alexandria December 13-14. For the 23rd year, the church presented its Living Nativity.
“I feel like this is a gift that First Lutheran can give that gives people hope and reminds them what the true meaning of Christmas is,” said Connie Fields, organizer of the Living Nativity for the past three years.
The idea for the Living Nativity originally came from a parishioner, Sue Edwards. Having recently moved to Alexandria, she had seen a Living Nativity in Illinois. She was so moved by the event that she suggested her new church present the story of the birth of Christ.
Her pastors agreed and parishioners were eager to get on board. Donations rolled in, as did offers from volunteers. Sets were built, costumes were sewn, animals were brought in and people agreed to play the roles.
The first year, the Nativity included just a stable. But it soon grew and now includes the town of Bethlehem – a stable, the inn, a pottery shop, Persian shop and a bakery/meat market.
“Everything you see there people have brought in,” Edwards said of the contributions the community has made to the event. “Wonderful women sewed costumes and kept it up. Right off the bat people volunteered to bring animals.”
From start to finish, about 300 people participate in making the special presentation a favorite holiday tradition. According to Fields, planning begins in early fall. A committee is formed that includes a person in charge of publicity, traffic, food, costumes, animals, sets and volunteers. The committee has to work with law enforcement, the City of Alexandria, Public Works and the fire marshal.
The Living Nativity is usually held the second weekend in December from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Spectators can witness the story of the birth of Christ as they drive their cars through the church parking lot, which has been transformed into a little Bethlehem.
Volunteers play the roles of Mary and Joseph, the Wise Men, angels and shepherds. Weather permitting, a live infant portrays baby Jesus. Each volunteer plays the part for a half-hour shift.
It is estimated that each year, 100 to 300 carloads of people take in the wonderful scene of the Christmas season.
“It’s a great family fellowship time. It has gathered people together year after year,” Edwards concluded. “That this has gone on for 23 years is amazing!”