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First United Methodist Church brings ‘Road to Bethlehem’ to life

Rhonda costa-landers

More than 80 people will take their places on the lawns surrounding First United Methodist Church on Friday and Saturday as the Methodists present their third annual “Living Nativity.”

From 6:30-8:30 p.m., residents will be able to see several scenes depicting the various stages of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem, the night of Christ’s birth – all from the comfort of their own vehicle.

Singing angels, shepherds, centurions, Caesar, along with wise men, Mary and Joseph set the stage in portrayal of one of the most religious events in Christian history.

“In the first scene are Caesar and Augustus decreeing everyone must go to Bethlehem to be counted,” said Christie James, who along with husband Ed are coordinators of the event.

In addition to the Jameses, there are about 80 workers and eight team coordinators.

“The other scenes are Mary and Joseph heading out with the donkey; a singing angel telling everyone not to be afraid; peasants and others heading to Bethlehem; the scene at the inn with Mary and Joseph being told there’s no room; singing angels with shepherds and wise men, then the birth of Christ.”

Live animals including two camels, three donkeys and six sheep are used. The camels are from Spanish Springs, and are the same camels used in the Virginia City Camel Races. The sheep and donkeys are on loan from neighbors in Washoe Valley and Douglas County.

“We need this many characters, or players, because there are two sets of players for each scene,” James said.

“We started with ages of kids who are in junior high, but we have many families involved now so there are now first-graders performing as shepherds, up to men who are wise and elderly gentlemen.”

The church is at Division and Musser streets. About 800 luminaries are used to light the path of the nativity. Drivers should enter from the south – Fifth Street at Minnesota Street. Go north on Minnesota and follow the cars to the path. Once drivers get to the nativity area, they will be asked to dim their headlights.

“This is our gift to the community,” James said. “One of the nice things is we don’t ask for donations.”

James said the popularity of the event is growing. The first year was successful. In 2002, the first night was well attended, but the second night was terrorized by Mother Nature with blustery winds and snow.

“We’ve heard people were planning to come (to the living nativity) before we even got the word out. We’re all excited.”

IF YOU GO

What: Drive Through Living Nativity

When: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday

Where: First United Methodist Church, corner of Musser and Division streets; enter from south at Fifth and Minnesota streets

Cost: Free