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Genesis Center hosts live Nativity scene

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
Dec. 21, 2011 at 6:21 a.m.

The three wise men sit before Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus and an angel during the live Nativity scene Wednesday evening at the Genesis Center. Members of Genesis Center, Rushing Winds Fellowship and City Harvest Church volunteered to take shifts in order to have enough people for the evening's live Nativity.

Standing emotionless and still, Chris Smith and Heather Stockton gazed at a baby Jesus doll resting in a manger.

Smith, role-playing as Joseph, and Stockton, playing mother Mary, donned first-century attire Wednesday night, on the lawn of the Genesis Center. They were joined by Three Wise Men, an angel and two shepherd children to complete the Genesis Center's live, drive-through Nativity scene.

"We wanted to do this to help not only ourselves, but everyone to remember what the season is about," event organizer Shelley Hartman, 31, said.

It's the Genesis Center's first attempt at organizing a live Nativity, but Hartman said they anticipate recreating the manger scene next year - possibly with longer hours, more actors and live animals.

"We'd like to make it bigger next year," Hartman said. "It's the first year, so we're trying everything out."

Christmas tunes boomed through an outdoor sound system as people walked on the lawn to observe the live re-enactment. For two hours, the free exhibit offered community members a chance to visualize the Nativity as it may have appeared more than 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem. They were also welcome to visit the drive-through prayer station and receive a complimentary Bible in both Spanish and English.

"We just want people to come and see it," Hartman said.

Victoria Stockton, a member of Rushing Wind Fellowship that meets in the Genesis Center, said she decided to visit the Nativity with her grandchildren so they could experience the meaning of Christmas.

"It's absolutely important for people to see it. Nowadays, I don't think little children understand what Christmas is. If it makes children ask questions, it's all worth it," Stockton said, staring at the nativity.

"This is your chance to explain to your children what Christmas is all about," Stockton's friend, Cricket Swearingen, added.

Swearingen's husband, Mike, is the pastor of Rushing Wind Fellowship.

Whether intrigued, overjoyed or simply searching for a family activity before Christmas, attendees of the Nativity agreed the emotion of the exhibit would take affect.

"Some people might come weeping out of joy, and some might come in awe," set designer Mike Arnold, said. "But everyone needs to be reminded that Christ is alive."

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