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Re-creation of Christmas story inspires faithful

Young actors and a biblical setting brought the holiday spirit to Holy Cross Lutheran’s Christmas event.

BY RODOLFO ROMAN
Special to The Miami Herald
Caroline Nozile raised her four children to read the Bible.

On Friday, those biblical stories were re-created at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 650 NE 135th St. in North Miami.

More than 300 people packed the building to get a glimpse of what it would have been like if Joseph and Mary were to have invited guests over their home in Nazareth.

“Being able to visualize it and read about it in the Bible and actually having them seeing it in real life is so amazing,” said Nozile, who lives in North Miami.

Guests lined up outside the auditorium-cafeteria to walk through a replica of Joseph and Mary’s home.

North Miami resident Macarena Sejour’s 9-week-old infant, Kovu Sejour, played the role of baby Jesus.

“All of our family thinks this is special,” Sejour said.

On stage, the imagined home of the holy family was on display, including a crib holding the baby Jesus, pots and pans and floor pillows. Candles illuminated the darkened auditorium, which was filled with the scent of incense.

“We wanted to create an experience for the kids,” said Damaris Valdez, the church’s youth and outreach director. “You can learn by seeing and hearing.”

The actors and participants also ate a light dinner that is similar to what might have been served during biblical times, Valdez said.

The menu included soup and homemade bread — with a modern twist: holiday cookies.

A Catholic church in Broward donated fruit for the meal.

The auditorium was transformed into an outdoor courtyard of tables with candles as centerpieces and covered in white tablecloths.

Wearing a blue headpiece and white robes resembling Mary, North Miami Middle School student Narzassia Batiste, 14, said it was an honor to play the role of Jesus’ mother.

“I get to play someone who is marvelous,” she said. “The fact that God chose Mary to have Jesus, that’s, like, wow. I feel blessed.”

In the church’s courtyard, children played several games inspired by biblical tales, such as one set in Joseph’s carpentry shop, where they raced to hammer a nail into wood.

Mary Oxar, an art teacher at the church’s school, said the event serves as a reminder to the faithful. “You tend to forget that Christ is the center of Christmas,” said Oxar, who provided most of the props for the event. “So, we hope this will help people think of Christ instead of the `I’ve got to buy this and got to go to that party’ type of thing.”

Before the dinner, a packed church attended a worship service where children danced and sang. The sign language ministry, a group of 20 girls and women, also performed.

To make the event more realistic, organizers also had a rack of more than 100 costumes representing the biblical period for faithful to wear.

“Right now, the community is going through transitions and turmoil,” said pastor Dennis Bartels. “This is one way in which we can reach out and say, `Hey, there’s hope for this world.’ ”

650 NE 135th St., north miami

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