During the Christmas season, nativity scenes placed in churches and homes throughout the world depict what tradition holds is the moment of Christ’s birth.
The main characters are Jesus; his parents Mary and Joseph; shepherds; and animals. The scene depicts Mary, Joseph and the shepherds as they look down adoringly at the new Messiah born in a stable. Nativity scenes are usually confined in a tight space and vary in size and elaborateness.
But Community Christian Church in Tujunga has expanded on the concept of the traditional nativity scene by incorporating live people and animals into the scenes that traditionally represent the birth of Christ.
To achieve this, the church will host its 14th annual Live Drive-Thru Nativity Scene – themed “Celebrating the Gift” – from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 13 and 14. The goal of the event, said Pastor Bob Snyder, is to give people a chance to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.
“In the midst of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and all the craziness, we want to get back to the real meaning of [Christmas],” Snyder said, “so that they might have an opportunity to take a breath and reflect on the reason for the season.”
The Live Drive-Thru Nativity Scene is presented in four pivotal scenes: a pregnant Mary as she rides atop a donkey with Joseph at her side; the angels announcing the birth of Christ to the shepherds; the manger as shepherds and animals gaze adoringly at the new Messiah; and the Three Wise Men as they make their way to pay homage to the child Jesus.
In presenting the Live Drive-Thru Nativity Scene, Snyder said, it is hoped guests will be able to see inside the four walls of the church. The event is also offered as a “gift to the community.”
“Most people who don’t go to church have very few bridges into what a church family might offer,” he said. “That is, the kind of support, fellowship, and relationships that are available to them through a church family.”
The idea for the Live Drive-Thru Nativity Scene stemmed from the desire by the church for guests to do as little as possible in order to fully experience a nativity scene. All guests have to do, Snyder said, is take a moment to drive through slowly. If guests wish, he said, they may park their cars and take additional photographs. Guests will also have the opportunity for fellowship over coffee.
In the past, he said, the church would hold Christmas musicals, but those events were not effective in connecting with the community.
“For us ‘inside,’ this was something we could get people to connect with that would never get inside the four walls,” said Snyder of the Drive-Thru Nativity Scene.
In previous years, he added, the event has averaged about 400 cars a night with about 1,000 cars having driven through by the final night. And his church, Snyder said, is small, with about 100 or so faithful attending Sunday services. As such, the event is limited to two days.
“It takes a lot of people to pull it off,” Snyder said. The scenes are shared between two casts that rotate once an hour.
Above all, Snyder said, he hopes guests will realize that “Christ has come so that they may have eternal life.”
Community Christian Church of the Foothills is at 10193 Tujunga Canyon Blvd. in Tujunga. Admission is free. For more information, call the church at (818) 353-8080.