PUBLISHED: 2:47 PM on Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Keeping it real
Juneau church holds second annual live nativity

Photo by Amanda Gragert
  From left: Astrid Bethers, Scott Wolfram and Dean Dawson portray the three wise men in the live nativity scene held by members of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. The display will be held at the church at 10300 Glacier Hwy. from 6-7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 22-23.
While the holidays can be a busy time of shopping, attending parties and cooking special treats, the members of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church are hoping to slow down the pace to put a spotlight on the spirit Christmas.

For the second year the congregation is holding a live nativity scene, featuring stations such as the manger, three wise men, shepherds and the church choir.

"It's really a group effort," said pastor Scott Wolfram.

He said the idea came from his wife, who had seen elaborate productions of live nativity scenes at her home in Wisconsin. Last year's nativity at the Juneau church featured three small stations. This year the production doubled in size and even includes the inn where visitors can step inside to get warm and enjoy cider and snacks prepared by church members.

"Everyone has taken it upon themselves to help how they can," Wolfram said. "People have been looking forward to this all year."

Photos by Amanda Gragert
  Jarrett Mahoney stands guard as a Roman soldier at the driveway of Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church.
The live nativity opened last weekend where church members took their places outside to portray the events of Bethlehem on Christmas night. The live nativity will open again from 6-7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 22-23. While visitors can drive through the scene without leaving the vehicle, church members stage the production outside, regardless of the weather.

"It could be a lot colder and at least it's not raining and blowing right now," said Dean Dawson, who portrayed one of the three wise men. "It's worth it though. It's a good way to get to know the people you go to church with on Sundays and share the true meaning of Christmas with the community."

Photos by Amanda Gragert
  Church members take their place in the manger during the live nativity.
Church member Jarrett Mahoney donned the apparel of a Roman soldier and directed traffic at the church entrance. He said it was his first year to participate, and he did so to help the church.

"It maybe gets everyone in the city in the spirit and shows them what it was like a little bit back in the day," Mahoney said.

Wolfram said that planning for the live nativity takes the entire year, and he hopes to see the new tradition continue.

"We're out here as a church to do something for the community," he said.

"We want to be known as the church that does the live nativity, and for families to make us a tradition each year like driving around to see Christmas lights."