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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Telling the old, old story

Congregations still bring Luke 2 to life

Each December a miraculous transformation takes place in churches everywhere. Bathrobes become royal garments, pillowcases turn into shepherds' headgear and tinsel transforms 2-year-olds into angels.

Whether it's an elaborate production with a cast of hundreds or just a few families acting out a narration of Luke 2, the tradition of putting on a nativity play continues to be just that — tradition.

"Baby Jesus" is placed in the manger at St. Mark Lutheran Church, San Francisco. St. Mark is one of countless congregations across the ELCA and beyond that continue the tradition of acting out Luke 2 each Christmas.

At Augustana Lutheran Church, Portland, Ore., you're never too young to have a role in the Christmas program. "We start with our babies, who are the 'friendly beasts,' and they could be anything — flamingos, kitty cats, things you never would have thought would be at the manger — but that's OK," said Amy Plumb, education coordinator. With only one or two rehearsals, "it's pretty spontaneous, and that's part of the enjoyment," she added.

By including every child who wants to participate from their multicultural, multinational congregation, they bring home the message that Christ came for all and each of us has a part in the Christmas story.


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