Messiah Church to hold 24th ‘Living Nativity’ Christmas Diorama
It is a sight that many, many have enjoyed over the years — Messiah Lutheran Church’s “Living Nativity” Christmas Diorama.
This will mark the 24th year the lavish presentation will be held at the church on Pine Island Road. A cast of 60 performers and more than 20 in the technical crew are now rehearsing and preparing for the drive through holiday experience, said coordinator Shirley Egleston.
Egleston has been a volunteer organizer for the event for the last four years, and organizer for the equally popular Easter Diorama.
She’s been preparing for the big event since October. The drive-through Living Nativity will take place Friday, Dec. 17, and Saturday, Dec. 18, from 7 to 9 p.m.
“I enjoy all the preparation, but I really enjoy the week we actually have the event. It is an opportunity to do something for the community, and to me, it is such a wonderful story told through the diorama.”
This year, she said, there are a lot of improvements.
“We have upgraded props and costumes, particularly some beautiful Centurion costumes, and lighting. We had a dinner about a month ago to raise funds for this. About 100 people turned out.”
Animals, always a big draw, are also in the rehearsal process now, including a donkey, sheep and more.
So well versed in how to do such an event, Egleston was a guest speaker with a “How To” workshop for a Lutheran Women’s group on doing nativity dioramas earlier this year.
She said one of the reasons she joined the church was because she saw the pageantry years ago, and could not forget it.
Pastor Rusty May said the colorful and inspiring dioramas were also one of the reasons he took his post at the church in the first place, after volunteering with the Easter Diorama in 2004. This is his seventh Christmas Diorama.
“I think one of the things that is so special about this event is that on busy Pine Island Road, people traveling from store to store have the opportunity to drive through the diorama, and connect with the real meaning of Christmas.”
His personal favorite part of the multi-scene event is the actual Nativity scene. “Also, I get to see through the rolled down car windows the joy and amazement on the faces of children of all ages.”
There is no cost to drive through the diorama, but free will offerings are accepted.
Messiah Lutheran will also host a Christmas Concert at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 19.
Messiah Chancel Choir, along with the Motet Ensemble and Handbel Choir, will present a variety of Christmas Noels and other Christmas favorites. Free admission, with good will offerings accepted.
For information one either event, go to Messiahnfm.org or call the church at 995-0133.
The church is at 2691 N.E. Pine Island Road on the border of North Fort Myers and Cape Coral.