The Nativity productions range from about 70 actors and support workers in Mill Hall, Pa. — population 1,375 — to a $40,000 extravaganza with a giant, holographic Angel Gabriel at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.
The shows, many of which are free, can seem like a Christmas pageant crossed with a Renaissance fair. ...
At Emmanuel Baptist Church in Alexandria, La., for instance, visitors are guided on a "Pilgrimage to Bethlehem" by the character Abraham of Jericho, who walks the audience through scenes of beggar children stealing fruit or Roman soldiers arresting a man who refuses to carry their packs.
I don't want to suggest that the first story of the chruch that didn't spend $300 on poinsettias and stocked its food pantry instead is supperior. I can understand people in the second story who called the mega-shows "ministry." After all, the recent National Catholic Youth Convention, was certainly an expensive, ministry-inspired spectacle; and I could name many more.
Still I appreciated these words:
"We prayed, 'Let this be a good outreach,' " she said.