Last Saturday and Sunday night, Merced, California, was the City of David. At least that’s how the guide at the Living Nativity explained Mary and Joseph’s journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem -- he compared the distance they traveled to the distance between Clovis to Merced.
So we managed to walk all the way to Merced, er, Bethlehem on Sunday night. (Or we walked around the church and into the sanctuary. Still, it was a journey.)
Confession time: we’ve been to this church building before. We visited a Hmong service a few months ago (it took two tries), and Mindy’s been to their thrift store several times. That’s where she heard about the church’s live nativity, and we decided it wouldn’t really count as a repeat.
luminaria to the first scene: Mary being visited by an angel, Gabriel. (The Scripture called the angel a “he,” but the angels we saw during our walk all looked female. Scripture also indicates that gender might not even be a thing with angels.) We found Mary cooking matzo bread when the angel brought the news that she would be the mother of the world’s Savior. There was then taped music of “Love was Born at Christmas”.
After the angel’s announcement about the coming Messiah, we had live singers lead us in singing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” (They said we were all welcome to join the church choir.)
multitude” of angels appeared to the shepherds, which could have been millions… or two. For budgetary reasons, I assume, we had two. Our guide also mentioned that the sheep these particular shepherds of Bethlehem were tending could well have been sold to the temple to be used as sacrifices for sin. The lively group of shepherds of different ages and shoe types (dress to tennis) reacted in a variety of ways to the angel’s announcement, and we all joined in singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” One of the shepherds seemed to be dancing her excitement about the newborn king.
We Three Kings,” the Bible never says how many men came from the East, but that tradition has named three, probably came from the fact that three gifts were mentioned (gold, frankincense, and myrrh). The guide also pointed out that their wise men were obviously genuine wise men because they all had glasses.
Silent Night" was sung. It is a wonderful thing at Christmas to have time to stop and consider what it means that God Himself entered this world as a human baby.