Living Nativity scene, living Christmas tree, a festival of song and Scripture

December 9, 2011
A lively Nativity scene

This weekend, a grassy field on Golansky Boulevard in Woodbridge will turn into ancient Bethlehem.

The Worship Center, an independent, nondenominational prayer group, is presenting its third annual Living Nativity, featuring scenes such as Mary and Joseph being turned away at the inn and the Holy Family gathered in the manger.

From 6:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, visitors will be able to drive through the exhibit, which has church members portraying townspeople and live camels, donkeys and chickens. Admission is free.

“This is our Christmas gift to the community,” the Worship Center’s lead pastor, Ron McCormick, said. “Beyond the shopping and the trees, the real message of the holiday, and what’s portrayed in these scenes, is hope; hope for a better future and hope for a better relationship with God.”

McCormick said more than 14,000 people visited the exhibit in the past two years. For more information, go to http://theworship-center.com/nativity.html.

— Andy Smith

A tuneful Christmas tree

Riverdale Baptist Church, one of the area’s most racially diverse congregations, is marking a quarter-century of its Living Christmas Tree, a celebration common among Southern Baptist churches.

“A lot has happened over the last 25 years, but one thing that has not changed is the meaning of Christmas,” said Brian Mentzer, Riverdale Baptist’s senior pastor. “In the middle of one of the most hopeless situations, hope was born.”

The event features choir members singing from a two- story, steel Christmas tree with dancing lights. The tree’s frame, which weighs more than two tons, holds 80 singers on wooden platforms.

Church officials say this year’s production will feature singers, actors and scripts that represent some of the best productions over the years.

Saturday’s shows are at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m; Sunday’s are at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and children; seniors pay $9. For more information, go to www.livingtree2011.com.

— Hamil R. Harris

Song and Scripture

The Festival of Lessons and Carols, a traditional Christmastime service pairing Bible passages with seasonal songs, will take place at St. John’s Church Lafayette Square, a historic Episcopal congregation near the White House, at 2 p.m. Dec. 18.

“The idea is to take a lesson or portion worthy of reflection from one of the books of the Bible, and then pair it with a carol that echoes that theme,” said Hayden Bryan, executive director of operations for St. John’s. “It’s a combination that captures the spirit of the season and resonates with people.”

Songs in the service generally include such staples as “Angels We Have Heard on High” and “Joy to the World.”

The service is open to the public, and admission is free. Valet parking is available. Communion will be celebrated immediately after. For more details, visit www.stjohns-dc.org.

— Andy Smith

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