Mary and Joseph could never have imagined 2,000 years ago that men and women and boys and girls of all ages would portray them in Nativity pageants during the Christmas season each year.
But scenes from their amazing time in Bethlehem along with their story of faith and love and the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ, is told time and again in drama and song at churches throughout Christendom.
Locally, East Newton Baptist Church will present "The Living Nativity" drama for the sixth year on its church property at 11290 U.S. Highway 278 E. in Covington, today through Sunday, with presentations at 7 and 8 p.m. Covington First United Methodist, 1113 Conyers St., will also present a live Nativity scene from 6 to 7 p.m. today and from 4 to 5 p.m. Christmas Eve.
Since it began, the East Newton program, held outdoors at the church's amphitheater, has evolved and expanded to include more drama, music and animals.
"We've changed it a little bit through the years," East Newton Baptist Pastor Tom Lee said. "It's more of a drama than in the past ...We've added more characters."
"The Living Nativity" includes Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, an innkeeper, angels, shepherds, wisemen, goats, horses and donkeys. The drama includes dialogue and music, including solos by certain characters.
"It's all to celebrate the love of Christ," Lee said. "It's just a great time for folks to come out and see what the first Christmas was really like."
The pastor said the live Nativity is a "gift to the community" from the church and he hopes people will come out early and enjoy hot chocolate and apple cider prior to the program. There will also be candy for the children. Lee said the animals are also available for petting.
"This presentation reminds us of the simplicity of what Christmas is all about -- Jesus," Lee said. "The greatest decision anyone can ever make is what they will do with Jesus."
The pastor said there have been as many as 400 people attending the annual live Nativity program in the past.
"The forecast is nice and chilly," he added. "For me, it's like it begins the Christmas season."