For the second consecutive year, the First Christian Church of Brazil will take members of the community on a three-day "journey" of the story of the first Christmas.
"The Journey," is a 45-minute staged re-telling of the first Christmas, which will take place on Dec. 4-6, from 6-9 p.m., at the church, 1875 W. United States 40. In all, the show will feature the work of more than 200 people, ranging from actors to parking attendants.
Jeannie Price, the director, referred to the show as a "progressive drama." Price said "The Journey" differs greatly from a standard stage performance, as it will take place all over the grounds of the church, with patrons moving from place to place seeing the various sites of Bethlehem in the days leading up to the birth of Jesus. She said the movement gives viewers the feeling they are part of the show.
In addition to seeing staples such as Jesus and the Virgin Mary, attendees will also encounter Roman soldiers, scribes, shepherds, angels, wise men and the innkeeper. Price said she thought the way the church has gone about telling the story makes it more easily accessible to the public.
"We are telling the story of the first Christmas in a fun, different and non-threatening way," Price said. "It's not someone sitting you down telling you, 'this is what happened, this is what you have to believe.'"
Price said 2008's inaugural "Journey" was a smashing success. Despite having one performance cancelled due to harsh weather conditions, the two-day performance brought in more than 1,000 patrons. Bob Witte, pastor of First Christian, who is also portraying a Family Guide in the show and delivering a message at its closing, said he hopes to see the success expand and for "The Journey" to become a holiday staple in Clay County.
"Hopefully (the performance) will become a new family tradition," Price said. "It's a great and unique way to see this story unfold."
Despite the success, Price said there will be a few modifications to this year's performance. Aside from a few tweaks to the script, the church has also upped its number of animals, which now includes live camels and donkeys to go along with returning livestock from last year, such as sheep and goats.
While the show does aim to entertain, Witte said its most important function is to remind people Christmas is more than a consumer driven holiday.
"It really gets back to the real meaning of Christmas," Witte said about the show. "It gets away from the commercialization aspects of the holiday. It gives us a chance to step out of our world to see what Christmas is all about."
"The Journey" will take place Friday-Sunday, Dec. 4-6, from 6-9 p.m., at First Christian Church. Segments of the show will occur both indoors and outdoors, so patrons are encouraged to dress appropriately based on weather conditions.