Nativities From Around the Globe

Nativity scenes from more than 50 countries will be displayed at the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center, 3900 Harewood Rd. NE, today through Jan. 30. The exhibit includes a specially commissioned nativity by Italian artist Albert Finizio that shows a figure of Pope John Paul II blessing a group of dancers. Admission to the center is by donation. Visit www.jp2cc.org for more information.

Nativities from around the world also are on display through Jan. 8 in the Rare Book Library Exhibit Room at Washington National Cathedral, Wisconsin and Massachusetts avenues NW. From 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 21, 22, 27 and 28, children ages 4 to 8 can make a craft at the exhibit and take it home. More information is available at www.cathedral.org.

Holiday Treats for Your Ears

Many area churches will hold Christmas concerts and pageants. Among the events that are free or almost free:

* "Born to Die," a Christmas cantata by composer Glenn Burleigh that critics have described as a fusion of gospel, jazz and classical music styles, will be performed at 6 p.m. Dec. 10 at Shiloh Baptist Church, 1500 Ninth St. NW. The concert will feature, among other performers, the choirs from Eastern, Woodson and Oxon Hill high schools. Admission is free, and an offering will be taken. Call 202-265-4305 for more information.

* "The Living Christmas Tree," a Broadway-style production featuring a 75-voice choir standing in the shape of a 30-foot Christmas tree, will be presented at Riverdale Baptist Church, 1177 Largo Rd. in Upper Marlboro, at 2:30 p.m. today, Dec. 10 and 11 and at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Dec. 10. Tickets are $10. Call 301-249-9111 or visit www.thetreeindc.com.

* "Four Tickets to Christmas," a musical set in 1905 in northern Ohio, will be performed at Columbia Baptist Church, 103 W. Columbia St. in Falls Church, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Dec. 10 and 11. Tickets are free and available at the church during business hours. Visit www.columbiabaptist.org or call 703-534-5700 for more information.

Holiday Treats for Your Vocal Cords

Those who prefer to do their own singing have several options. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will hold a free singalong of Handel's "Messiah" at two locations today: at 4100 St. Johns Lane in Ellicott City at 6 p.m., and at 10000 Stoneybrook Dr. in Kensington at 6:30 p.m. No experience is necessary, and scores will be provided.

John Bell, a composer, musician and ordained minister in the Church of Scotland, will lead a free workshop in hymn singing at 7 p.m. Thursday at Washington National Cathedral. People of all musical abilities are invited. Visit www.cathedral.org.

Or go to a Hanukkah song-sharing session for song leaders at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sixth and I Historic Synagogue, 601 I St. NW. More information can be found at www.sixthandi.org.

Multi-Faith Community Service Day

The District of Columbia Jewish Community Center will hold its annual community service day Dec. 25. Volunteers are needed for a variety of service projects at 60 sites across the District, including painting of homeless shelters, hospitals and schools; serving meals to the homeless; and visiting seniors and children at hospitals.

With the first night of Hanukkah coinciding with Christmas this year, the center is making a special appeal for people of other faiths to join in the day of service. To register online, visit www.dcjcc.org. Call 202-518-9400, Ext. 565, for more details.

Another Dec. 25 volunteer opportunity is providing Christmas dinner to the needy at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Michigan Ave. NE. The meals will be served in the shrine's dining room. Volunteers also are needed to prepare and deliver meals to homes in the District and Montgomery and Prince George's counties. Visit www.nationalshrine.com.

Catholicism's Interfaith Relations

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Nostra Aetate, a declaration about the Catholic Church's relationship to non-Christian religions that was ratified by the Second Vatican Council in 1965. The document condemned anti-Semitism and repudiated the centuries-old charge that Jews were responsible for the death of Jesus.

The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum will hold a panel discussion from 3 to 5 p.m. Wednesday to discuss the interfaith efforts that laid the foundation for the document, and the declaration's lasting legacy on interfaith relations. The free event will take place in the museum's Helena Rubinstein Auditorium. For more information, visit www.ushmm.org.

-- Compiled from staff reports

Images from the Cathedral exhibit also can be found in the Episcopal Diocese's 2005 calendar, at www.edow.org.