Portales to host living nativity

By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer

There is nothing out of the ordinary about seeing a nativity scene made of plastic or wood on Portales lawns during the Christmas season, but what the Church of God is doing Sunday night is, indeed, out of the ordinary — at least for Portales.

The Portales Church of God is displaying a nativity scene, complete with live animals, tonight from 4-8 p.m., in the church parking lot on Amazon, across the street from Portales High School.

“There will be live animals,” Church Pastor Donald Hay said. “There’s going to be horseback rides there. There will be a real donkey, a real sheep. I’m not sure about everything they have planned. I don’t think they found a camel, though.”

Hay believes this is a first-of-its-kind event in Portales and hopes the performance will send a powerful message.

“What I’m hoping is that (people) will realize that (Christmas) is not about events and pageantry,” Hay said. “(Christmas) is a simple thing. Christ’s birth was a simple thing, so it’s not going to be elaborate, we don’t have actors, we have just our regular people doing this. Sometimes we get caught up in all the pageantry … sometimes and we miss the simple story.”

Popcorn, hot chocolate and other treats will be available and organizers say that it is a come-as-you-are family event.

“It’s someplace where everyone will feel welcome,” Hay said. “If they work in one of the dairies, they’re going to feel welcome walking through our country Christmas. They don’t have to worry about walking in with muddy boots, they don’t have to worry about any of those things.”

Hay said that his co-pastor, Michael Gilchrest, first came up with the idea several months ago.

“We want to provide something for people to walk through and maybe get an understanding of what Christmas is really about,” Gilchrest said. “We’re hoping to do it every year. Of course, the first time you do it, you never really know what the turnout will be.”

Hay doesn’t quite know how many people to expect for the event, but he hopes about 300 people show up to view the performance and sip hot chocolate.

“It’s a common goal type thing, so (people) don’t have to stay for four hours,” Hay said. “There will also be someone telling the Christmas story.”

“This is an opportunity to show (people) that it’s not about any of these other things,” Hay said. “It’s about Jesus being born in a manger, not in a Hilton somewhere.”

Pastor Hay hopes the hard work put in on the live nativity will bring families together this Christmas.

“It’s about relationships,” Hay said. “I think that’s the most important thing about this time of year. We forget it’s about families, it’s about relationships with each other.”

What: Live nativity scene
When: 4-8 p.m. today
Where: Portales Church of God, 1427 E. Amazon

• Refreshments will be available.
• A Nintendo Wii will be raffled off to benefit the youth group.