PARSIPPANY – St. Andrew Lutheran Church, 335 Reynolds Avenue, has offered a Live Nativity as its Christmas gift to the community, for 25 years. What started as a few rustic scenes and about 50 visitors, has blossomed into a deep blue and starry night with costumed “actors” moving to a Nativity story read to over 500 guests annually over the two day period.
On Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14, from 4:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m, St. Andrew Lutheran Church once again invites the community to come peer into the manger and find God’s greatest gift, His Son made flesh, born to live and die among us, so that the ultimate sacrifice of His life on the Cross would be our salvation.
The very first Live Nativity at St. Andrew was intended to be outside, but that first year was bitter cold with snow in the forecast. And so, the Live Nativity was moved indoors and has seen a variety of improvements and creative changes. There was only one year, during the construction of their new sanctuary, that the Live Nativity was cancelled due to safety concerns for visitors. There have also been a few years when one of the two days had to be cancelled due to snow or ice. However, over all it has been a labor of love that requires “all hands on deck” for the entire congregation. In the past several years, a handcrafted wooden ornament has been given to visitors, with some claiming to “have the whole collection.” This year’s ornament is the baby Jesus in the manger.
It only takes a few moments. A 15 minute narrative telling of the Nativity Story is read continuously under a deep blue star-lit night sky over Bethlehem. The Live Nativity is intended to be an experience of peace and joy that helps guests to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, and the irony that God’s Son would come to humankind, not as a royal conquering king, but rather a humble servant king, born to a poor young virgin mother and her carpenter husband-to-be. In the Christmas story, we hear how Jesus comes to live among us, God wrapped in human flesh to feel our pains and know our joys and sorrows.
Guests will witness the shepherds journey to Bethlehem to see the Messiah announced by the angels, and Wise Men as they travel from the East to lay their own burdens and gifts before the infant King.
Admission to St. Andrew’s Live Nativity is free. Refreshments are served after each reading, and each small group of guests will receive a free hand-crafted ornament as a keepsake of their visit. St. Andrew is collecting non-perishable food items for the Parsippany Area Food Pantry for anyone who is able to bring a donation of this type. St. Andrew’s sanctuary will also be open for meditation and prayer.
St. Andrew’s Live Nativity is an indoor event, handicapped accessible event at the church, located at 335 Reynolds Avenue (next to Old Troy County Park). For more information or directions, please visit the church’s web site at www.elcaAndy.org, or call (973) 887-6713.