HISTORY OF OUR LIVING NATIVITY
Discovery Baptist Church
The idea for our first Living Nativity came in 1998 after seeing what one of my friends, Mike Jennings, did at their church in Tacoma. We realized the need to proclaim the birth of Christ in this realistic and historical way in our culture where Christmas has become a commercial event with a mythical emphasis.
Our forested church setting was well suited for such an event, so our youth group, led by Marty Simons, put together a simple manger scene along the edge of our parking area. About 26 people put up a cave-like scene and acted as the holy couple, shepherds, and magi for the evening. About 58 cars drove through and a few walkers for a total of 243 that first winter’s night. Interest was high, so we did it the following year with some angels singing, too. This time 481 folks came.
Each year cars and crowds grew so we added showings on second and third nights and our character cast grew to around 200 depicting more aspects of the first Christmas. Eventually we had about a dozen scenes complete with animals, torch light, and special effects. By 2011 the cars and walkers grew to about 5,000. Scenes now were realistic with the characters interacting with guests as if they were visiting Bethlehem the night of Christ’s birth. We strove to be as biblically accurate as possible and leave out contemporary expressions of Christmas that had nothing to do with the birth of Christ. People coming through loved it and some were even in tears.
With the larger crowds came hazards with both cars and walkers coming through Bethlehem. Therefore, in 2012 our friends at Harbor Covenant Church opened their entire parking area so guests could park there and walk across the street to our village. People could now see scenes up close, interact with characters like the Romans guards, inn keeper, village merchants, shepherds, magi, the manger scene, and so on and not worry about being run over. Police also became essential to direct traffic which was growing each year. In 2017 we had over 5,600 attend during the two evenings.
Since 1998 we have only cancelled a few times. Once was for a power outage and twice for building projects. We typically tell the cast to dress warm, stay in character, and know the program will go on snow, rain, or nuclear attack.
Entrance is free even though expenses have increased. However, donations are accepted. If you wish to give, see our website home page for the button marked, “Give”. We hope can you visit our Living Nativity when we finish our major upgrades and additions to our buildings and parking areas in 2019.
The multitude of angels that announced his birth to the simple shepherds were right when they said, “Glory to God in highest.” (Luke 2:14). Jesus arrived humbly that dark night to bring glory to God by dying on a cross to bear our sin, being buried, resurrected, and ascended to heaven with a promise to return.
It is astounding to think this baby born in obscurity has affected more people than any other person in human history. Yet Christ never really owned a home or had wealth or political power, and his ministry was only for three years before he was crucified. All of this was so that any who come to Him in repentance of sin and faith alone in Him may find complete forgiveness and peace with God and bring Him glory.