HUNTERSVILLE – It’s become almost a rite of passage, Director of Discipleship Lisa Wilson said of youth participating in the Huntersville Presbyterian Church Live Nativity. Once they reach middle school years, youngsters get a chance to don the handmade costumes and play one of the roles of the Christmas Story.
“There are Mary, Joseph, angels, wise men,” Wilson said of the 17-member cast. “The costumes were made years ago and help kids get in character and in the spirit of what they are doing.”
And in continuing tradition, the church’s Live Nativity will be one of the features of the town's upcoming A Christmas in Huntersville festivities.
“From a church perspective it’s the reason we have Christmas to begin with as the day Jesus is born,” she said. “We want to share the Gospel and share the message with the community on a day when they are already celebrating. … They get to hear the message of Christmas even if they’ve never come to church. The seeds are planted.”
Two 25-minute sessions of the Live Nativity, which follows a reading of the Gospel of Luke Chapter 2, will be offered during A Huntersville Christmas, which is 2-8 p.m. Dec. 1 in downtown. During the church’s program, Scripture is interspersed among music from the church’s praise band.
“Each show we have the musicians change the music from year to year based on what they are learning,” Wilson said.
The program has become so popular among those participating that college kids come back to help.
The initiative is also outreach to the community. While they are watching the story play out, attendees can enjoy free hot chocolate and cookies.
“We want to welcome people and warm them up from the cold,” Wilson said. “I’m going to go buy hot chocolate and 84-dozen cookies that people will take home and bake. We want those who come on our campus to gift them with a good snack while they enjoy the show.”
People can already get a peak of the manger scene that was recently assembled in front of the church and is ready to go. There are straw and hay bales available for people to sit on, though Wilson recommends people come early to get a seat and hear the youth share the story.
“They are having fun and having a good time,” Wilson said of how the kids feel about it. “It’s a chance to share for those who have never heard the Christmas Story in this way. … Even if only one person hears it in a different way, they know they’ve done what they could for seed planting.”
For those who miss the Nativity, fourth- and fifth-graders will present “Three Wise Men and a Baby” during the 10:30 a.m. church service Dec. 2.