Clifton’s Immanuel Lutheran Church offers elaborate drive-through live nativity depicting the birth and life of Jesus Christ, providing the “perfect” celebration of Christmas Dec. 18
CLIFTON – Christmas is not just a national holiday but is rather a day observed and celebrated around the world with many different customs and traditions that often vary from family to family. Older generations recount memories from the past and stories of their youth, and families and friends share love and laughter as they come together for holiday festivities.
Clifton’s Immanuel Lutheran Church concentrates on the most important story in Christianity – the birth and life of Christ. Each year they share the story in the form of a live nativity called “The Perfect Gift,” because through his death and resurrection, Jesus defeated sin, death, and the power of the devil. And in trusting him as the savior, people need not fear death, because God gives his children the gift of eternal life – the Perfect Gift.
This year’s “The Perfect Gift” is scheduled for Dec. 18 from 6-9 p.m. located at 911 W. 3rd, Clifton. Drivers are encouraged to line up on West Third Street to enter the nativity entrance on North Avenue J. Cars should proceed slowly in single file through eight scenes, and exit right onto West Third Street. For more information, please call 254-675-3281.
“We want to share the love of Jesus’” Vacancy Pastor Joe Ardy said, explaining why the church organizes this wondrous, ever-expanding display.
The impressive, incredible evening engages about 80 congregation members and friends. But many, many more work behind the scenes making décor, sewing costumes, bringing in the chickens, goats, sheep, donkeys and camels and hauling in the over 40 round bales that lined the route and 90 square bales as part of the biblical scenes. And not to forget the technical aspect – by utilizing a QR code on smart phones – of the audio narration the visitors in the cars listen to as they drive by the 13 scenes. There are volunteers present to explain how it all works.
As the visitors pass the various religious scenes in the nativity presentation in the comfort of their warm vehicles, they hear the story of Jesus the Savior and why he really is the perfect gift from God to mankind. As the narration for each scene comes to an end, they hear sleigh bells – indicating to pause the narration and to move on to the next scene.
From the Prophet Isaiah, to the Angel Gabriel coming to Mary to scenes depicting Roman Empire Ruler Caesar Augustus’ decree that all should be registered and counted so the Empire can impose taxes. This decree has Mary and Joseph leaving Nazareth and traveling to Bethlehem, the birthplace of their ancestors. In the Nativity, vendors line Bethlehem’s streets offering their wares, like chickens, goats, corn, bread, clay pots, fabrics and more.
At the Manger scene, shepherds, the three Wise Men from the East bearing gold, frankincense and myrrh gather around the manger with a real, sweet sleeping baby looked over by her loving and caring parents playing Mary and Joseph.
Five large six by 14-foot print panels depict Jesus preaching the Holy Scriptures as a young boy, changing water into wine and feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and calming a great storm.
The next scene visitors to the Immanuel Lutheran drive through Nativity saw Jesus kneeling by a delicate blooming tree, in front of a beautiful garden backdrop of a garden – the Garden of Gethsemane. The visitors see Jesus’ arrest by soldiers and then carrying the cross on the way to his Crucifixion.
The very last scene depicts Jesus’ resurrection scene and the empty tomb with a magnificently lighted angel announcing that Jesus was no longer dead, but alive.
As the Bible puts it: “And the angel answered and said unto them, Fear not, for I know that ye seek Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” (Matthew 28:5-6)
Through his death and resurrection, Jesus defeated sin, death, and the power of the devil. And when trusting Jesus as savior, people need not fear death, because God gives his children the free gift of eternal life here and now, life that continues in eternity with him in heaven.
Historically, Immanuel Lutheran was the German Lutheran church amongst the Norwegian Lutheran churches in the community. Where language was the difference maker in the past, today the church is considered the more conservative Lutheran church, taking the Scriptures more literally and remaining unchanging in the face of contemporary culture.
In that vein, in a world of increased commercialization surrounding Christmas time, the church’s Christmas production is primarily to get Jesus’ gospel out to the public. And they do it in a very special and big way that is enjoyed by people all around Clifton.
“We pray that this experience will be a blessing to you and your family as we all pause during this busy season to focus on the true meaning of Christmas,” the introduction to the Live Nativity tour The Perfect Gift states.
Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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