By: Lorrie Ward Jackson | Category: In Our Communities | Issue: December 2011
The Living Nativity at Shepherd’s Cross features costumed characters and realistic sets of the night Christ was born.
This year, Shepherd’s Cross, a working farm and Christian mission, will celebrate its 20th year of helping provide a living nativity for Claremore and surrounding areas, to which owner Dr. Diane Dickinson responds with a smile: “Isn’t it amazing how quickly the time goes?” For the first few years, the nativity was held at other locations in town. They then moved it to the farm, where it has been held ever since.
With its costumed characters, live animals, and true-to-life sets, Shepherd’s Cross Living Nativity is designed to be like “stepping back in time to when Christ was born.” The scene is reenacted inside the Shepherd’s Cross museum and gift shop building where the petting zoo normally is, in keeping with the manger motif. Dr. Dickinson describes the experience as “a peaceful reflection of the meaning of Christmas.”
The Living Nativity is not a drama, but rather a simple reenactment of that famed night at the inn, where those attending can stand quietly and imagine what it must have been like the night of Jesus’ birth. “People often ask, 'Where is the performance?’” says Dr. Dickinson. “And we always say, ‘It’s in your heart.’”
Peace and reflection are truly the focus of Shepherd’s Cross at this yearly remembrance of the Christmas holiday. From the moment those attending pull into the drive, they are transported back as they see flocks of sheep like the ones remembered in Christmas carols. Inside, there are demonstrations throughout the day by spinners, weavers, and fiber artists. Children can participate in several activities, including a coloring contest, making a bird feeder, games, children’s movies and story time.
In the gift shop, one can peruse a plethora of knitted, hand-painted, sewn, and wool yarn items, as well as handmade jams and jellies. “We are almost like an ongoing craft fair here,” says Dr. Dickinson. “And we are a Made in Oklahoma Company.” Shepherd’s Cross will again offer handmade, fresh evergreen wreaths for sale, with proceeds going to missions. Free apple cider and homemade cookies will be available also to warm the body as the atmosphere warms the heart.
Every half hour throughout the day, a one-person mini drama is presented by a person in costume. “Last year, we had ‘the inn-keeper’s wife,’ who told the Christmas story from her perspective,” Dr. Dickinson recounts. “We will have a brand new character represented this year.” Since real live humans are the ones bringing the Christmas scene to life, there is always a need for volunteers to help with reenactment. “We always welcome volunteers, especially families, to stand in as costumed characters,” says Dr. Dickinson. “Many families who have participated have reported that this is the most special moment of their holiday, as they get to escape from the hustle and bustle and reflect on the true meaning of Christmas.”
Admission to the Living Nativity is free (with a $2 suggested donation), and the event will run December 8-10 and 15-17, from 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The nativity is up all during those hours, with actor rotation every couple of hours. “Come help us celebrate the Christ of Christmas,” Dr. Dickinson invites. “There may be standing room only in the long line to see Santa at the mall, but there is always room at the manger.”