• 68°

Recovering Christmas Meaning

The field was desolate for the most partTuesday afternoon, save for a few wooden structures wrapped intarps to protect them from the cold rain.

    But all that will change Friday night when the field in front ofNew Sight Baptist Church is filled with more buildings, animals andpeople in the mock towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth for the church’sFourth Annual Live Nativity.

    “The purpose is to recover the meaning of Christmas,” said BrotherCalvin Price. “There’s lots of excitement created by commercialism,and we’re fine with that. We don’t want to take away from that. Wejust wanted to have a way to remind people of the meaning ofChristmas, and that’s the birth of Christ.”

    The vision for a live nativity fostered within the church aboutfive years ago, Price said, and came to fruition four yearsago.

    “We wanted to make that come to life,” he said. “It’s somethingthat has grown each year.”

    The first year started with just the manger scene, Price said. Bylast year’s performance, the event caught on with both the churchand the community alike.

    “Last year was our highest yet, in terms of attendance,” he said.”About 2,000 people came through. We had to have a deputy directtraffic. That was one of our goals – to get enough people to comeout so there’d have to be some traffic control.”

    Price explained church members started a fund for the nativity, andmembers would donate both money and materials for the structures.Last year, several buildings were added like the temple, thecarpenter and blacksmith shops, the market and the census booth,Price said.

    “We have lots of participation from members in various ways,” hesaid. “I would say 60-70 people are participating at one time. Plusall those involved in the preparation with making costumes andputting up the structures. It would not be a success without(church volunteers).”

    Price continued about the additions for this year’s nativity.

    “This year, we’ve added Mary and Joseph’s house in Nazareth,” Pricesaid. “That’s where the story will start with the angel appearingto them and telling them to go to Bethlehem for the census.”

    The scenes progress from that point to Mary and Joseph finding noroom to stay at the inn, and they move through the town until theyend up at the stables and the manger.

    Price said he expects churches from all over the state to bringbusloads to see the nativity, from Walthall County to the south,the Jackson area to the north and the Delta even farther north.

    “We hope for more people to come this year,” he said. “Every yearit seems to spread out a little more.”

    Price and the church members are already looking at ways to expandfor next year.

    He hopes to have segments of the story broadcast over the radio soviewers can pull up to a scene, tune the radio in their car andhear a voice tell the story as they see it happen out of thewindows. He likened it to the way some homeowners synchronize theirChristmas lights to music people can hear through car radios.

    “Also, we want to add additional scenes to increase theexperience,” he continued. “Maybe three or four more buildings. Wewant to fill up around the entire field. But that’s a few yearsdown the road.”

    The Live Nativity will be open to the public and admission is free.The dates are Dec. 9 and 10 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., and Dec. 25 from5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

    “It’s a ministry I think will continue,” Price said. “We don’tcharge admission, and the church won’t accept donations. That’s nothow we want it. It’s a gift. The message is just to recover themeaning of Christmas.”