By Brandon HENSLEY
he rain came and washed away the first night of Community Christian Church’s Drive Thru Nativity scenes but, as CCC’s Pastor Bob Snyder said, he’s not the one who controls the weather.
“I’m not in charge,” Snyder said. “The creator of the universe is. He’s the one that sends rain. That’s above my pay-grade.”
So this year, Snyder and his volunteers had to settle for giving the community just one night of its annual two-day set up, in which people could drive through the parking lot of the church campus and watch the story of Jesus’ birth unfold in a style similar to Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World.”
Snyder estimated just under 400 cars drove through last weekend, around a thousand people in total. After scene-goers finished, they were invited to either join in prayer for whatever was on their mind, or come inside the coffeehouse to hang out and drink hot chocolate.
The church, located in Tujunga at 10193 Tujunga Canyon Blvd., started the nativity scenes 13 years ago. Snyder said he was trying to figure out a way to bless the community. He knew some churches put on concerts. He went in a different direction.
“I was seeking something that was outside the four walls of church,” he said, “that people would experience a gift to them and they wouldn’t have to leave their car.”
In his words, no fuss, no muss. Unless it rains, like it did last week.
“Yeah, it was,” Snyder said on whether he was let down. “We’re a pretty small church so we put a lot of time and energy, effort, economics, prayer into it so I have to say it was a disappointment.”
Each year, for one weekend, volunteers help out as they not only stage the scenes but are actually in them. The scenes begin with a pregnant Mary and Joseph riding to Bethlehem. As cars slowly advance, they next see a shepherd around a campfire, with real sheep. There’s also an angel up in a lift, 30 feet above ground.
Further on down, there’s baby Jesus in a manger as shepherds, played by kids, look on. The last scene is of the three wise men coming to Bethlehem.
The church often uses live animals.
“We had a llama one year but he didn’t like it,” Snyder said. “He was spitting on everybody. We had a cow one year. He was pretty cool. We’ll try and get him back.”
Though the church is small, it’s been around a while; next October it will celebrate its 50-year anniversary. Snyder, the church’s pastor for two decades, said it’s a gift to give the community something like the drive thru nativity scene. He’s also appreciative that his church can serve all kinds of people in the foothills.
“It’s been a huge gift,” he said. “I say this positively, there are fewer places that are more diverse than this community … in a sense that we have homeless people, board-and-care people, millionaires, blue collar, professionals and they’re sitting next to each other.”