A child is born
Kenosha News CorrespondentThis is what Christmas is all about, buddy,” said Sam Garcia to his 7-year-old son, Mateo, as he pointed to the wooden creche filled with a mix of farm animals.
There’s something about a live Nativity scene that tugs at the heart and awakens spiritual felicity.
According to most beliefs, the original Nativity, when Jesus was born in a Bethlehem stable, was likely a simple, sparsely populated occasion with Mary, Joseph, several sleepy farm animals and some fleeting shepherds gathered around a manger.
As the holiday, baking, decorating and shopping rush threatened to overpower the stamina of the most docile of individuals, Kenosha’s First United Methodist Church offered a live Nativity to give visitors cause to pause and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
Donning shepherd, angel, and Centurion robes, First United Methodist Church members greeted visitors, while Mary and Joseph comforted the Baby Jesus in a wooden manger on church grounds on Sunday. For the Garcia family, it was the perfect preparation for Christmas.
“This is something for our family, and for Mateo to see so he has a better understanding about the meaning of Christmas,” said Sam, holding his baby daughter, Carissa. “My wife Jill and I want our children to learn more about the birth of Jesus and that Christmas is really about giving to others.”
For five years, longtime member Shirley Edwards dreamed of hosting a live Nativity on the church grounds, and after receiving the approval by pastors Linda Farmer-Lewis, Kathy Nuzzo and the church committee, the dream became a reality.
“We all get caught up in the hustle and bustle of Christmas,” Edwards said. “People are so stressed with baking, shopping and thinking of everything but the true meaning of Christmas. We hope that this event brings people in from the community that might not be familiar with the birth of Christ and the story.”
Preparations for the free event, which included a video presentation on “The Star of Bethlehem,” seasonal music and the Bethlehem Marketplace with a petting zoo, crafts, and refreshments, took an entire year, said Edwards, who spent five months sewing 30 costumes for the participants.
“In addition to our pastors, I worked with Ron Fischer, Tom Johnson and Carol Gammon to put this together,” she said. “This was the first time for this and hopefully we can do it again.”
If it were up to 6-year-old twins Elliot and Isaac Sens, the live Nativity would be an annual event. Accompanied by their grandmother, Sandy Sens, the boys seemed to understand what it must have been like for Mary and Joseph on the cold winter night when Jesus was born.
“We never saw nothing like this before,” admitted Isaac. “This is the best one we ever saw. All the other ones were too far away and we didn’t see anything. It was cold for little Jesus and the animals were there to keep him warm.”
After coming in from the cold, the twins ate popcorn and cookies, and visited the petting zoo.
“The animals are good, but the hair on those goats is pretty scratchy,” Elliot said. “But the best part is decorating the ornaments. I am not putting any glitter on mine though because I don’t want to wait until the glue dries, I want to take it home right now and put it on our tree.”
By the large number of visitors, Farmer-Lewis was excited to see the results of months of hard work and planning.
“We just don’t take time to slow down and enjoy what Christmas really means,” she said. “It isn’t the shopping or all the craziness, it is the message of Christ. He came as a gift to us and we need to share that message. This turnout is wonderful — it makes me very happy.”