Wednesday, December 18, 2013

REVIEW: A Living Nativity at Living Hope Church

I asked my friend and guest blogger, Dennis Sparks, to give you an unbiased review of the Living Hope LIVING NATIVITY since I (Greg) worked on the lighting for the show. Here's his take:

This hour-long program is presented annually during the Christmas Season at Living Hope Church, 2711 NE Andresen Rd. (the old K-Mart building). For more information you can go to their site at

“Tis the Season…”

This Christmas time of year is a joyous time for many people and our media reflects that as well. There are the classics, such as It’s A Wonderful Life, a story of Renewal and Belief in the Goodness of Man; Miracle on 34th Street, about the St. Nick, or Santa Claus, the Giver of Love and Happiness; and, of course, Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, a tale of Redemption.

But there is also a much older story, The Nativity, which includes all the attributes of the former ones I mentioned. After all, that’s what this Season is about, isn’t it? So, let’s not forget, the One “…who made lame beggars walk and blind men see” (Cratchit from Dickens’s A Christmas Carol).

The story of The Nativity comes from the New Testament in the Bible. According to prophesy, a Child would be born who will be the Savior of Mankind, Prince of Peace, King of the Jews. He was born of a Virgin in a stable in Bethlehem. 

And he was adored by some shepherds from the field and Magi from the East. He was called Jesus and his birth changed the direction of much of the world.

Live Animals

Pastor John Bishop with Curly the Camel.
A couple things unique about this production: 1) It has live animals—a burro, a lamb and even a camel. 2) It has a live baby. Thus, the term “living.” The sheep had some very spirited comments throughout the narration (by Pastor John Bishop), accenting some of his story with “Baaaa.” And the burro was stomping his hoof, as emphasis, I assume, to the Pastor’s tale. But these diversions did fit with the celebratory mood of the occasion.

The other approach to this well-known story is Bishop’s relating the background or facts to the times. Mary, Jesus’ mother, was betrothed at the time of her pregnancy to Joseph, a carpenter, and of the House of David. This would have been a stoning offense or, at the very least, a legitimate reason for divorce. Also the trip, with a very pregnant Mary, was about 90 miles over some very harsh terrain. And the manger and stable were actually a trough and cave.

Also, the shepherds were considered the lowly of the low in society and couldn’t even worship in the temples. Perhaps a comment on the class system, as they were some of the few to witness this Birth.

And the Magi, or wise men, came from Persia and had been studying the stars for many years to discover this moment and place in time. They brought gold, a symbol of royalty; Frankincense, a spice; and muir, an embalming ingredient, to foreshadow the Child’s death, perhaps.

Lively Show

Bishop is very appealing as the narrator and very down-to-earth as he makes comments on the proceedings. The gal who plays Mary, has a very pleasant voice in the song she sings and a nice stage presence. The costumes were super, adding very much to the reality of the moments. And the lighting by Greg and Isaiah Zschomler had some nice touches, such as the strobe effects when the angle spoke, the bathing of Mary in a shadowy blue light during her song and the bluish night effects over the stage.

Sorry, I wasn’t able to give credit to more people but there were none listed in the program nor was there a phone number.

Overall, well done. I do recommend this show, especially for the live animals and sense of reality that was added to this famous story. Also, it sure beats the plastic or porcelain Christmas that some people adore at this time of year. 

There are three remaining shows all at 7 p.m.: tonight, Wed. Dec. 18; Thur., Dec. 19 and Fri., Dec. 20. There are children's activities before and after the program in the foyer, including a themed petting zoo. If you do go, please tell them Dennis sent you.

Video Preview

Review by Dennis Sparks, guest blogger.
Photos and Video Provided.

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