Faith Works 12-6-14
Joys of the season all around us
This afternoon and evening the churches of Granville will be putting their best feet forward in the annual first Saturday of December candlelight walking tour.
It's almost all free (stores are still selling stuff, of course), and the concerts are multiple, almost every hour on the hour, both inside the sanctuaries on the four corners and beyond, as well as museums and bank offices and other spaces up and down Broadway.
If you missed the Sights and Sounds of Newark, it was last Thursday, and that helped downtown Newark "get in the mood" both for faith and festivities, not to mention the local "Nutcracker" production at the Midland Theatre last weekend.
But tomorrow, just south of downtown on National Drive, St. John's UCC is hosting their Bethlehem Marketplace from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm; it's so big, they only take the project on every other year, so you'll wait for two if you miss tomorrow! See www.stjohnsnewark.org for more details, but it's a full immersion into the world of Jesus' birth, for the cost of a couple of cans of food for our local food pantry network.
And I can't help but mention that my own congregation, Newark Central Christian up Mt. Vernon Rd. from downtown, is holding our annual Living Nativity on Saturday, Dec. 20, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm in front of the building, with activities and food inside if you want to come in.
Many churches do various turns on a living nativity, but this one, that's been going on for years, has a lovely twist. About each half hour is a new production, narrated through a sound system by pastor emeritus Rev. Rick Rintamaa. There are the usual live sheep and goats and maybe even a llama (cousins to camels, and look just like 'em, too!), and the whole range of Nativity characters in robes and crowns and staffs and such.
But the Newark Central Living Nativity gives our guests a chance, each rotation, to join the show. Kids can be a shepherd, or an angel, or maybe even a wise guy! The team in charge keeps the production and movements simple and choreographed so that even a pastor can jump in and fill a role for one round (the sequence is a bit over fifteen minutes long).
If you want, you can just park in the big lot, walk across Rugg Ave., and watch the "show," hear the story, and then head on down the road. Or you can come inside, get a bite to eat, and then join the cast and reflect on the words Rick is reading from a whole new point of view.
There are many ways to get into the Christmas spirit, but there's nothing quite like getting into the middle of the story itself. May the story of God's love come down to earth in the baby of Bethlehem be part of your story this Advent season.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him how you tell the Christmas story at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.