By David Hotle, The JOURNAL
As he was helping to construct the set for this year?s running of the Live Animal Christmas show, Marion Avenue Baptist Church pastor Joseph Brown marveled that the yearly running of the play was actually older than he is.
The 34-year-old senior pastor said that the show is entering its 43rd year. This year the title of the event is being called the ?Christmas show? rather than ?play.? Brown said this is because the event is more than just a play. He explained the spectacle that audiences will see includes a light show and joyous music even before the play begins. He promises many elements to the show.
?We believe everybody at Christmas needs a little hope,? Brown said. ?We believe that is the whole message of Christmas. The first Christmas proclamation that was given to the shepherds was of good tidings of great joy. That is what we want our Christmas show to be, good tidings of great joy.?
The performances will be held Dec. 8, 9, and 10. Brown said there would be four public showings offered free of charge. He said Friday evening, Dec. 8, is for people who need a ride to the church on one of the church?s buses. People needing a ride can either call the church office at 1-855-825-4113, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Public showings are Saturday, Dec. 9 at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Seating is available on a walk-in basis. Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. there are reserved performances for groups of 10 or more.
Each year Marion Avenue tries to change the performance from the previous year. Brown said there are plenty of new effects this year. He said there are new fog and snow machines this year. He said the music is new.
About 30 animals will be used in the play and about 250 actors will perform. All of the actors and workers are volunteers.
Brown said the Christmas story is told as close to the Biblical story as possible, including the shepherds, the angel appearing to Mary, the journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus Christ. The story follows Jesus throughout his life and through the crucifixion.
?It is a story of hope. It is a story of peace. It is a story of joy,? Brown said. ?Christmas can be a sad time for people, but we want this to be a bright spot in their Christmas holiday. Its more than just doing another play.?
Since the play has begun, it has become a national tradition for many. People have come from many states away to specifically see the play. Brown said that this year he has received a phone call from a family bringing a handicapped child from South Dakota to see the play.