O come, let us adore Him: Events focus on the reason for the season

WORTHINGTON -- It's not quite Thanksgiving yet, but shopping venues are already filled with images of Santa and his elves and the sounds of "Jingle Bells." Amid the hustle and bustle and commercialism of the holiday season, area churches and reli...

WORTHINGTON -- It's not quite Thanksgiving yet, but shopping venues are already filled with images of Santa and his elves and the sounds of "Jingle Bells." Amid the hustle and bustle and commercialism of the holiday season, area churches and religious organizations have planned events designed to remind people of "the reason for the season" -- the arrival of the savior in the form of a tiny babe born in Bethlehem.

On three subsequent weekends, church-related events will focus on the Nativity -- that stable scene featuring Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus in the manger.

Nativity Experience

The Nativity Experience was a new event in 2008 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 230 Clary St., showcasing Nativity sets that depict the biblical Christmas story.

It returns for a second year this weekend, with viewing scheduled from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at the church.


"Last year was a great success," said Marlis Anderson, a member of the church's Piecemakers quilting and Koinonia Bible study groups that host the Nativity Experience. "So this year we're running it a little longer, hoping that will help more people get in to see it."

In 2008, the majority of the Nativity sets were brought in by members of Westminster, resulting in about 70 on display. This year, members were asked to reach out to their family and friends to find more Nativity sets. Anderson anticipates close to 100 will be available for viewing, and she hopes it will continue to grow in years to come.

"We seem to be getting a bigger collection," she said. "I look at Nativity sets as an art form, and even if you see something once, it's worth seeing again. I put mine up every year and keep it up until March."

A variety of manger scenes will be on display, including tapestry, antique, collectible, homemade, traditional and whimsical ones

The admission fee will also entitle attendees to a sampling of Christmas cookies, ice cream, coffee and hot cider.

Use the east entrance; Westminster Presbyterian Church is handicapped-accessible. For more information, phone 376-3138.

Sioux Valley Live Nativity

"The Promise of Salvation Revealed" is the theme for the live nativity planned for Nov. 28-29 at Sioux Valley Lutheran School, rural Lakefield.


The indoor-outdoor narrated tour runs from 4 to 7 p.m. both days.

"We are in our eighth year," said the Rev. Marv Soulek, a member of the Live Nativity committee who serves as one of the tour leaders. "I think in our area, we are the only live nativity with actual characters and dialogue. You hear the words, and you hear the live entertainment."

The Sioux Valley version begins well before the time of Jesus' birth.

"We go back to the Old Testament with the first promise of Jesus coming in the Garden of Eden, then we trace it through a lot of the Old Testament," Soulek detailed. "Then we don't end it with the Christmas story. There's the promise of Jesus coming and the fulfillment in his birth, but the promise isn't totally fulfilled until he dies and rises again. It's the total picture."

A new scene has been added this year -- the angel appearing to Joseph in a dream before Jesus is born.

This is currently a restructuring year at Sioux Valley Lutheran and no students are attending the rural parochial facility, but the Live Nativity is a fundraiser for future operations. Many alumni are involved in the production, Soulek noted.

In addition to the narrated tour, soup and chili will be served, and there will be a bake sale. Live entertainment is another attraction.

Saturday's entertainment lineup will include Macy Rossow of Lakefield; Soulek's son, Paul, who is the director of music at St. John's Lutheran Church and School in Seward, Neb.; and Brenda Matasovsky, former principal and teacher at Sioux Valley Lutheran School. On Sunday, Jubilant, a women's singing group from Lakefield, and the Worthington Brass are both on the schedule.


The tour lasts approximately 25 minutes. Because the tour is partially outdoors, people are advised to dress appropriately.

"We invite all people to come out," said Soulek. "This is a nondenominational, biblical message ... the straight story out of the Bible."

A free-will offering will be taken, with supplemental funds from Thrivent.

Sioux Valley Lutheran School is located 10 miles east of Round Lake on Jackson County 4. For more information, phone (507) 945-8122.

The Christmas Journey

To take in "The Christmas Journey" at Worthington Christian Church, 1501 N. Douglas Ave., people don't even have to get out of their vehicles. The live, drive-through nativity will be offered from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Dec. 4 and 5 at the church.

"I think we've done it almost 18 years or more," said church member Darlene Oberloh, one of this year's organizers. "I think there's only been one year in there that we didn't do it."

The Worthington Christian production features live animals and real people presenting the biblical story of Christmas in the great outdoors.


"It is a tradition, and it takes a lot of people to pull it together," said Oberloh. "Somebody has to step in and say they're going to organize it, and it takes at least 40 people just to stand outside. We need people to do publicity, set up the backdrops, the scenes that go up, get pulled in the one night and put out again the next, to line up the animals, to feed the people that participate. I would hate to guess how many people are involved."

When the church first started the live nativity about two decades ago, they were the only one in the immediate area, the closest probably in South Dakota, Oberloh recalled. Now there are others, but she hopes people still take the time to support the Worthington Christian Church effort.

"I believe it's a wonderful outreach for the Christmas season, and the reason for the season is to celebrate Christ's birth," she said. "People can just drive through and get the message; it's a non-committal way for people to do it."

For more information, contact Worthington Christian Church, 376-3418.

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