By CHERIL VERNON
Just before Christmas last year, a large searchlight brought travelers from miles away in several directions into the heart of Palestine to find its source — Grace United Methodist Church’s live nativity.
For the 21st year, Grace UMC will again host a live nativity — bringing its searchlight back for the second time — with hopes that visitors and residents alike can take time to enjoy the “true” meaning of the season — the birth of Christ.
The one-night event will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday on the church grounds, located at 1918 E. Murchison St. (turn at Trinity Valley Pool and Spas on North Loop 256).
“This one-night presentation of the Christmas story will be the ‘spot’ to be — castmembers dressed in elegant costumes, a beautiful outdoor setting, sheep, donkeys and lambs, wisemen bearing gifts and wonderful music — all of this standing in awe of the historic manger scene,” Grace UMC live nativity founder Bela Hafner said.
Last year’s event brought travelers from afar as they returned to the train ride on the Texas State Railroad.
“Travelers on highways 84 East, 79 West, 287 South and 155 North saw a strong light and followed it to the manger,” Hafner said. “After viewing the scene, many came inside for Christmas snacks before they continued along their travels.”
Grace UMC will rotate 55 church volunteers in four groups for the live nativity.
“We’re doing it a little different this year. We’ve changed things around a lot,” Hafner said. “We have new costumes and other costumes that were bejeweled or changed in some way.”
After families and individuals view the live nativity scene, the church is inviting the public inside the church for refreshments.
“This year the baby will be the main feature of the year’s production. The Grace Methodist family invites young and old to follow the light to grace and see the ‘real reason for Christmas,” Hafner said.
Family of Faith Church in Elkhart also is presenting a live nativity at 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. today and Friday.
Refreshments, hot chocolate, coffee, and wassail will be available in the fellowship hall for guests and cast members between shows and following the last presentation each night.
The church is located off U.S. 287/Texas 19 South in Elkhart.