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Visit the Living Christmas Story in Johnson City

First United Methodist Church of Johnson City’s Living Christmas Story nativity scene starts at 6:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 7-8 and Dec. 14-15. Admission is free. Courtesy photo

The joy of the season is found in a tiny manger surrounded by a mother and father, angels, wisemen, and livestock — on a basketball court at First United Methodist Church of Johnson City.

Church members will play these vital parts in the Living Christmas Story nativity scene. During the program, onlookers are transported in time to the night baby Jesus was born, fulfilling the prophecy of the birth of the Messiah. “It’s our Christmas gift to the community,” said George Barnette, mission coordinator at First United Methodist Church,. “We do have people who come back every year from out of town.”

The production begins at 6:30 p.m. Friday-Saturday, Dec. 7-8 and Dec. 14-15, at the church, 105 N. LBJ Drive. There is no cost to attend, and the shows are every half-hour until 8:30 p.m. They last about 10 minutes.

Attendees can partake of free cookies and hot chocolate while enjoying the production indoors. Currently, more than 100 nativity sets are being placed inside the church foyer, adding another Christmas element to the night. Most of the sets are on loan to the church and come from different parts of the world.

The Living Christmas Story has been going on for more than 50 years, Barnette said. Past productions have featured three generations of the same family, which helps make the scene even more special.

Barnette noted that people have said they make it a point to visit Johnson City specifically to see the Living Christmas Story.

For many, he said, their holiday simply isn’t complete without a visit to the church’s nativity scene.

“It’s part of family Christmas traditions, going to Johnson City and seeing the living Christmas nativity,” he said. “If we can reach people with Christ’s message, if we can help people have a merry Christmas, if we can convey that through the message of Christmas, then we could be a blessing to them. And that’s a blessing to us. We wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

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