Live nativity pageant returns to Lacombe

Mary and Joseph look down upon the little Lord Jesus during a past year's live nativity pageant at the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints in Lacombe. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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Lacombe residents will once again be able to take in the Live Nativity pageant at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In what has become an 18-year-old Christmas tradition in the community, locals will play out the Christmas story – the birth of Jesus Christ – Dec. 20-22 with shows taking place at 6:30 p.m., 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. nightly.

“We’re just trying to show our love of the saviour. I think that’s pretty well it – that appreciation for him,” said Monica Buchanan, the live nativity media coordinator. “It’s not something that’s brought forward all the time…It’s important and it shouldn’t be missed.”

About 25 people are part of the cast as shepherds, angels, the three kings, as well as Mary, Joseph, and the baby Jesus. Live animals are also part of the performance, with their use donated by members of the community.

There are no in-depth rehearsals for such a performance, Buchanan says, as the actors aren’t required to speak, but act along with a pre-recorded reading of the  Book of Luke.

Each performance takes about 20 minutes, with the goal of giving those watching an idea of what the birth of Jesus Christ looked like more than 2,000 years ago. As it’s held outdoors, there’s that added dimension of feeling what it might have felt like for Mary and Joseph – albeit without snow – to travel and seek shelter so she could give birth.

“We’ve had people come out in -30 degree weather,” she said. “It’s kind of a nice thing to bundle up with a blanket and be outside and see the live nativity.”

Afterwards, attendees are invited to head inside the church to view about 150 crèche displays and warm up with hot chocolate, cookies and squares.

“Crèche is another word for ‘nativity,’” explained Buchanan. “It’s just crèche displays from around the world. Many nations have different cultures and customs, but we all celebrate the same Christ…Families will put them together – some do really large ones, to small ones, and in the past there have been (Indigenous) ones, ones from Africa…It’s just beautiful.”

Shows are free to attend, and take place at the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints across from the Lacombe Regional Airport at 4049 63 Ave.

An outdoor live nativity will also happen in Red Deer at the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints at 8 Keast Way Dec. 18-20, with shows happening nightly at 7 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.