Come December, many faithful Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus by installing a creche in front of their home or in public spaces. Typically, nativity scenes are created with scaled-down figures of the manger scene, often lit up at night.
For the past 13 years, one Maricopa church has taken that model and gone a step further.
“We bring the nativity scene to life,” Community of Hope Pastor Rusty Akers said.
In December, the Church will be holding its 14th annual Living Nativity. For one day, typically the Saturday before Christmas, volunteers assemble in an area around the church and portray the nativity scene through live action, Akers said.
Every 30 minutes, for roughly three hours, churchgoers read the gospels, telling the story of the first Christmas.
“It’s kind of come and go,” Akers said. “You don’t have to be there for one show, it’s kind of an ongoing thing.”
They sing carols, enjoy light refreshments and provide activities for the kids.
They have hay bales for attendees to sit on. And if the weather proves to be a bit chilly, they will also provide heaters.
Akers said most actors are pulled from the church’s congregation, even baby Jesus. Some years, that proves problematic.
“We use a live baby every year, so we always rely on somebody in our church to get pregnant and have a kid sometime between August and November,” Akers said, laughing.
When that plan fails, he said, they’ve had to go outside the church to find an infant stand-in.
This story appears in the December issue of InMaricopa.