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Nativity comes to life

December 16, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - It's an age-old story recounted all over the Christian world at this time of year.

Joseph and his pregnant wife, Mary, wander wearily into Bethlehem.

They are turned away by an innkeeper, but find shelter in a nearby stable. It is there that the baby Jesus is born.

Parishioners at Emmanuel United Methodist Church in Hagerstown brought the story to life Saturday during a Living Nativity play that will be repeated today.

About two dozen spectators lined the sidewalk in front of the Summit Avenue church to watch the play Saturday night.

A cold wind blew as Mary, dressed in a blue dress and white scarf, and Joseph, dressed in red robes, made their way into "Bethlehem."

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Later, a procession of children dressed as angels approached the manger as the song "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" played. The children wore handmade white, feathered angel wings and carried candles.

About 30 of the church's 200 members participated in the production, which is in its second year.

Some people worked on building the stable and manger. Others put together the costumes. Behind the scenes, people narrated and worked the light and sound systems.

One night earlier, the parishioners gathered in the church basement to practice their lines.

The Rev. Dennis Upton became the last-minute director after Sandy Reed had a family emergency.

"That's why we have rehearsal," Upton told the group when things didn't go exactly as planned during their first run-through.

All the participants were amateurs, said Diane Mitchell, one of the organizers.

"I think it's kind of fun and gets you the knowledge to know what really happened," said her daughter, Katie Mitchell, 13, who portrays one of the angels.

"Maybe some people don't know about Jesus. Maybe we could teach them a little bit," said Lauren Van Nosdall, 10.

Even though the message is serious, participants said they have fun putting on the play.

"We have a wonderful time. This way we get to socialize more than once a week," Reed said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon.

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