Southside Presents the Living Nativity

Written by Teresa Dennard.

December 7th, 14th & 21st

A drive-thru Living Nativity coming in December is the first of its kind in Panola County. Hosted by Southside Baptist Church, Pastor Kirby Hill presented the idea to the church back in January. When Hill challenged the church he said, “We have the perfect place for this with our circular driveway. We can place scenes from the life of Jesus around the outer edge of the church parking lot for the cars to drive through and have characters in each scene telling the story of Jesus. The church worked hard on this project all year. We will be ready. Everyone is on board and there is a growing excitement among the members.’

When turning through the stone gates into the church parking lot, a Roman soldier will greet people with a “tour guide.” Progressing through the lot, 15 different scenes depicting the life of Christ will be on display. The scenes in order: 1-Isaiah the Prophet; 2-the angel telling Mary she’s going to have a child; 3-Caesar Augustus declaring a census would be taken of the Roman Empire; 4-Mary and Joseph going to Bethlehem for the census; 5-no vacancy at the inn in Bethlehem; 6-Jesus born in the manger; 7-shepherds in the field; 8-angel chorus Glory to God in the Highest; 9-Wise Men crossing the desert to Bethlehem with the gold, frankincense and myrrh; 10-Jesus discussing the law with the scholars at the Temple; 11-Sermon on the Mount; 12-Jesus on the Cross; 13-the empty tomb; 14-the Resurrection; 15-Merry Christmas.

“I’m so grateful for all the hard work put into the Living Nativity,” comments Hill. “When I looked at our church, I knew we had the talent to pull this off. We’ve had seamstresses, painters, carpenters, electricians…almost everyone in the church has been involved in some way. Some have given time, some have used their talents, and others have given money. It’s just amazing how much we can accomplish when everyone works together.”

Bill Bradley is an example of the hard work “behind the scenes.” He is playing the role of Caesar Augustus, and he doesn’t do anything unless it’s the best. He watched 20 hours of the video I, Claudius to learn how to correctly play his role as Emperor. A crown was made for him, but in the movie, the Emperor did not wear one, so Bill chose not to wear one either. Most of the sets are taken directly from the Bible, but a touch of humor occasionally appears in the sets. “Our children are going to be the sheep in the meadow. After all, they are part of our flock, too. We debated whether to call the inn ‘Motel 2’ or ‘Bethlehem Inn’. We decided on ‘Bethlehem Inn,’ and it will have a green and white sign just like Holiday Inn and a neon ‘No Vacancy’ sign underneath it. The inn keeper will be out front sending Joseph and Mary away.”

Hill knew his church had the talent to pull this huge project together, and he knew they had the perfect location to host it. “This has been one of the most gratifying things in my ministry since I’ve been here. The people have come together and worked with real vision and excitement. We’re hoping everyone will come and enjoy it and have a relaxing family time. We’re reaching out to all the people in the county to come see what we’ve created. You don’t even have to get out of your car. You can come dressed comfortably and not even worry about keeping the kids quiet.” The Living Nativity will be open three Saturdays in December; the 7th, 14th and 21st from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Southside Baptist Church is located on Highway 315 just past the loop.