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The real meaning for Christmas

Joyce Hollister

“Jesus is the reason for the season,” and on Friday and Saturday evenings, Carson Valley residents are invited to remember what Christmas is really all about.

The birth of Jesus.

“We want to provide an opportunity for the community to see what the Biblical account of the birth of Jesus is about,” said Pastor Rene Houle of the Exciting First Baptist Church of Minden. “We’re re-enacting what the gospels teach about the birth and ministry of Christ.”

A living nativity scene will feature members of the church and live animals donated by people of the community who are not members of the church, but who became interested in taking part.

“I just felt,” said Cheryl Moore, coordinator of the scene, “that we could make an impact on the community, and that the real reason for Christmas has been rather confused with all of the things that Man has added to the actual birth of Jesus. Not that we have anything against Santa Claus or presents – that’s part of the tradition – but because it has become rather diluted.

“We wanted to help the community remember what the real reason of Christmas was – God stepped down from heaven to sacrifice his own life so we could have entrance into heaven.”

Moore has been thrilled with the response from both members and non-members of the church. Moore called the Extension Office to connect with people who would be willing to lend their animals to the scene.

“Everyone has been so responsive,” Moore said. “They said, ‘What a wonderful idea. What can we do to help you?’ It’s really been overwhelming.”

The living nativity scene will include a calf provided by Valree Hellwinkel, ducks by Jody Laxague, sheep from Ed and Jody Apple and a horse from Mary Ann Begovich.

The llamas provided by Carolyn LeGrand will be made up to look like camels.

The living nativity scene will actually be three scenes. One will depict shepherds hearing the good news from the angel that Jesus is born. The second scene will be that of the traditional nativity scene in the manger featuring the live animals, and the third scene will be of Jesus with children surrounding him as he teaches them his ministry.

Hot chocolate, cider and coffee will be served along with cookies, and the church choir will sing Christmas carols. A huge bonfire will be lit to help take off the chill of the evening. The scenes will be offered Friday and Saturday, 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Taking roles in the scene are Mariah Archer as Mary; Bill Harmon as Joseph; Ray Harmon, Joshua Harmon, Derek Rickford, Ray Watley and Gerry Varin as shepherds; Craig Sever as Jesus; Jennifer and Rachel Koury, Lacey Shupe, Angela Stephenson, Zach and Cameron Houle as children; and Christine Guadagni as the angel.

The choir will be conducted by Ron Scott, who will also do narration with Chuck Wayne. Refreshments are being coordinated by Bobbie Wilson, and the Baptist youth group will do traffic control.

The scenery, including pens for the animals, was built and painted by Jim Moore, Ross Peterson and Frank Josifko. Firewood will be provided by Harold Fessler and Derek Rickford.

The Exciting First Baptist Church is located at the intersection of highways 395 and 88 in Minden.