Live nativities are another tradition of Christmas. And this one is set among the tents and other buildings on another old tradition, the Shiloh Camp Ground.
The idea of having a live nativity scene at Christmas is to help people better visualize what things were like back at the time when Jesus was born. So when the folks at Shiloh Methodist Church in Pelahatchie decided to start doing a live nativity at their church, they utilized an asset that very few other churches have.
Namely, the rustic old cabins on the church's 180-year-old campground. Normally the cabins, which they call "tents," are used during the summer for the annual camp meeting and revival. People leave home and come to the church and live in them for the whole time.
Over the past few years, the church has started dressing up the tents as Old Bethlehem and using them again on Sunday night and Monday night of the second weekend of December.
Pastor Ron McDougal says, "This was a unique idea to use the campground for this purpose. The church opened its arms and the tent-holders opened their arms to the idea of using this for this purpose and it's been a blessing for not only the community but for the church."
Church members play the parts of soldiers and children and Mary and Joseph and angels. As one youngster put it, "You get to dress up and you get to do stuff." And a Roman Soldier admits, "It's just a lot of fun. The community gets together and just really enjoys coming together and glorifying God and giving something back to the community."
Live animals are used, too. Probably most unusual for this part of the country is a year-and-a-half-old camel named "Frank" that James and Toni Godby own. Toni says she wished she'd have gotten a camel years ago, and James adds that Frank is lots of fun to have around.
"It's like having a six-foot dog around the house," laughs James.
According to the census taker, nearly a thousand people drove through Sunday night to get a look at wise men and ordinary citizens and the star and the angels, to see what it would have, maybe, looked like that night in Bethlehem. Liz Brazier and her two sons, Austin and Conner of Brandon liked it. Liz says, "We loved it. It was actually very impressive."
Live nativities are another tradition of Christmas. And this one is set among the tents and other buildings on another old tradition, the Shiloh Camp Ground. Both of these old traditions are getting together to help us just that much more, get in touch with the season we are in right now.
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