The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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November 30, 2012

The Meaning Of Christmas

The Christmas season has arrived, and one local 15-year-old is hoping the public celebrates the meaning of the holiday with his living Nativity from 6 to 8 p.m. today and Saturday at his family’s farm, just off Clear Fork Road, near Cirtsville.

Cody Deal, a sophomore at Woodrow Wilson High School and New Prospect Baptist Church member, has been working for nearly a year to produce the living Nativity and with help from members of his church will enact the story of Jesus.

Deal explained he got the idea to organize his own Nativity after seeing one at Cranberry Baptist Church in 2010.

“I thought it [the Cranberry living Nativity] was really cool and that I wanted to tackle that one day,” Deal said. “And I finally tackled it.”

On Dec. 25 last year, he began planning for the one he and members of his church are readying to host and perform for the public. In March, the organization began picking up more when he started sewing the costumes, buying materials and constructing some of the scenery — all for which he used his own money. Since then, though, his church reimbursed him for most of the money he spent, Deal added. Deal said he began setting out the scenery and props and stringing the many lights in October.

Since then, others have helped Deal financially with his living Nativity, including New Prospect Baptist Church. Deal says the Nativity — his favorite Bible story — wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his family and friends.

During the dress rehearsal Thursday evening, Deal helped outfit the more than 20 church members who are volunteering their time to help perform the living Nativity.

“A lot of people were really excited to help,” Deal said. “I’m stressed, but I’ve enjoyed putting it together. I hope people get to remember the true meaning of Christmas.”

The production isn’t just people standing at a manger — there will be vans transporting visitors by the various scenes and a recorded CD of New Prospect Baptist Church Pastor Gary Williams telling a shortened version of the story will be played in the vehicle. Deal says the living Nativity experience will last around 10 minutes. The vans will run throughout the two hours.

Charlotte Thomas, a church member who is playing an angel, explained she wanted to take part in the living Nativity because Deal had put so much time and effort into the performance. She added that she knew Deal had spent a year buying and gathering materials whenever and wherever he could. Thomas said she hopes people attend to see what Deal has accomplished and learn the story of Christmas.

Thomas’ husband, Dallas “Duke” Thomas, is also involved as a shepherd.

“It’s showing people what Christmas is about and the sacrifices of Jesus,” Duke Thomas added.

To help people find the living Nativity, signs will be posted along the road, Deal says. The event is free and open to the public.

Deal says he’s planning to create the living Nativity again next year, but possibly without quite as many Christmas lights.

— E-mail: chiggins@register-herald.com

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