Joy Taylor of Burnet has plenty of 'joy' in her Christmas decorations, although her favorites are representations of the manger where Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Staff photo by Suzanne Freeman
The tradition of a live nativity scene in Burnet will continue despite the cancellation of Main Street Bethlehem this year, thanks to the calling of Joy — Joy Taylor that is.
The longtime member of First United Methodist Church of Burnet brought the idea of a drive-through live nativity scene to the church’s board and busied herself recruiting volunteers and organizing costumes.
“Joy felt the call to do something to keep focused on the season,” said the Rev. Jason Teague, pastor of First United Methodist Church. “She came up with the idea as a way to keep the community engaged and proclaim Jesus.”
The spiritual tableau will be presented to the public on church grounds, 301 E. Graves St., from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 12-13 and Dec. 19-20. Signs will mark way.
“I just hated that we had to cancel Main Street Bethlehem,” Taylor said. The annual production was one of several events that fell victim to COVID-19 health concerns this year. “I just felt our town needed something to remind them of the first Christmas.”
As a veteran volunteer at Main Street Bethlehem, Taylor is well versed in the requisites of a live presentation of the nativity. She and a team of volunteers are working from an old photograph of the live nativity their church set up as part of its annual Christmas tradition years ago. They gave it up at the genesis of Main Street Bethlehem, a project of First Baptist Church of Burnet. Most local churches, including First United Methodist, pitch in each year to help with that creation of biblical proportions.
“It’s been several years since we’ve done this,” Taylor said of the more intimate live nativity scene at First United Methodist. “Bringing this back is our gift to the community. This is our reminder to everyone it was the birth of Jesus that brought us the first Christmas, and it is something to celebrate.”
Having a crèche as part of holiday decorations highlights and reminds us of the reason for the season, Teague said.
“It’s a way for people, without using words, to proclaim the story of our Lord and Savior,” he said. “It’s a great way to explain the story to kids.”
His own three children, the youngest of which is in high school, had a “Veggie Tales” crèche they played with as children.
“It’s so much more meaningful to have live actors, when you know it means enough to these people to give their time to provide this witness to the community,” Teague added.
Volunteers put together costumes and props, some of which the church already had on hand, others that had to be created from scratch.
“We have the three kings elaborately dressed with their crowns and gifts,” Taylor said. “We have a backdrop and will have hay bales set out as well.”
Visitors will be able to park their vehicles and get out to take photos as long as they remain socially distanced. No ushers will be on hand to rush people through the experience.
The scene will include shepherds, wise men, Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus.
As to where the baby will come from, Taylor answered slyly: “That’s the mystery of Christmas.”