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Church’s nativity scene goes live – really live – this weekend

There’s a story at the root of the Christmas frenzy now in full swing. Telling that 2,000-year-old tale – showing it, in fact – is just what members of the Elmira Pentecostal Assembly had in mind when they organized the church’s first-ever live nativity production.

Rachel Bauman and Brian Chamberlain are both helping to organize the event that opens this weekend. The goal, they say, is bringing back the true meaning of Christmas.

“I think so often now, the story of Christmas is removed from schools and so many different aspects of our lives, and it is a story that needs to be told. As a church and as believers, we want to make sure that story is still told,” said Bauman.

The outdoor play will take place in the field behind the Elmira Pentecostal Assembly at 280 Arthur St. S., and with a cast of more than 100, and plenty of live animals, it is set to be an entertaining and informative look at how the Christmas holidays began.

“We are going to have donkeys, alpacas, goats, sheep, chickens, horses, mini horses and calves. I think that’s all of them,” laughed Bauman. “Because of the area we are in, and the generosity of the people that live here, animals weren’t hard for us to find.”

The play is a church-wide project, with everyone coming together to make it happen.

“As much as we are excited about putting on a community event, and reaching out to the community, it is our pastor and all the people that it takes to put something  like this on,” said Chamberlain. “Every Saturday, there was been people here working and building, and pretty much every night of the week there has been somebody at the church doing something for the live nativity. Whether it is costume people, or sets.”

A live nativity used to be put together by Bethany Missionary Church in Kitchener, but after over 15 years and a change in pastor, they discontinued the live show. It is estimated that some 500,000 people watched the live nativity in Kitchener, and now, members at Bethany Missionary Church are lending a hand to Elmira Pentecostal.

“Through different connections with people and the church, we heard that they were going to be giving their props and sets away. We jumped on board, and we were one of several that got props given to them. A lot of scenery sets, a lot of costumes,” shared Chamberlain, adding that along with items to go in the show, Bethany members were full of advice. “Going into it, that is what Bethany Missionary Church was saying. We had a chance to chat with some of their people and they stressed how great this was to give to the community, and to even create a community within the church.”

The play won’t just focus on the more well-known aspects of the Christmas story, such as Mary and Joseph riding to the inn and being turned away, or the wise men with gold, frankincense and myrrh. The play will take the audience through the entire story all the way to Jesus on the cross.

“I think a big part of a lot of Christmas programs are focused on the birth, but we are going to tell the story right up until the cross, the plan of salvation,” said Chamberlain. “It is the whole story. I have never seen that part of it myself. It didn’t end when the three wise men showed up. That was just the beginning of the story.”

There will be five showings of the live nativity and Christmas play: Dec. 3 at 6, 7 and 8 p.m. and on Dec. 4 at 6 and 7 p.m. There is no admission charge, and all guests are invited into the church after each showing for hot chocolate and cookies.

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