LAKE JACKSON — Traditions are one of the ways people celebrate the Christmas holiday. One of those traditions might involve the displaying of a Nativity scene to commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ.
For St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church, its Nativity tradition goes a step further.
The 63rd annual Living Nativity continues at 7 and 7:30 p.m. today and Sunday right outside the church at 200 Oyster Creek Drive. The public is invited to attend each performance and join in cookies and warm beverages afterward.
As it might be with any tradition, “it stays similar from year to year, but it’s never the same,” said Judi James, who is directing this year’s production.
The Nativity reenactments take just 20 minutes and recount the story of Christ’s birth from the Annunciation — when the angel Gabriel first appears to Mary — to the visit of the Magi, when the three wise men bring gifts to the newborn King.
“It comes mainly from Luke,” said Senior Pastor Brendan Kimbrough of the story, which the church takes directly from the Bible. “The Gospel means ‘good news,’ and this is the good news of Christ’s birth.”
The Living Nativity incorporates different cast members each night and live donkeys are part of the production. Friday’s performances featured 3-month-old Claire James as the baby Jesus, which is the first time in several years a baby has been involved.
“We won’t have a real baby on Saturday and Sunday,” James said.
The rotating cast allows more people to get involved, and once costumes, set building, lighting, audio/visual, live animals and cookies are included, it takes “dozens and dozens and dozens of people” to make the Nativity come to life, Kimbrough said.
“We don’t have to really ask; they want to participate and it’s a lot of fun,” said Susan Laver, senior warden at St. Timothy’s. “We always have such a wonderful turnout from the community, but also in our church.”
From year to year, the Living Nativity is the church’s gift to the Brazosport community, Kimbrough said.
“I know there will be people here who will listen to the story of Christ’s birth who most likely are going to contemplate it in a different way as a result of us putting this on, and think about how that applies to their own lives,” Kimbrough said. “That’s what I’m most excited about — sharing that story.”