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Remembering the reason for the season

Grace Community Church in North Liberty brings the Gospel according to Luke to life
Joseph and Mary sit with baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem as volunteers with the Grace Community Church bring the Gospel according to Luke to life Sunday, Dec. 20, with a drive-through live Nativity scene at the church site in North Liberty.

NORTH LIBERTY– Christmas: a time of lights, carols, presents and gathering with friends and family. For Christians, of course, it is also the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The Grace Community Church in North Liberty decided in the wake of a challenging year to celebrate Christ’s birth in a big way with a drive-through live Nativity scene on Sunday, Dec. 20.
“2020 has been a difficult year so we wanted to do something that would serve the community, do something where people could be outside and didn’t have to worry about being shoulder-to-shoulder inside, and just do something that would bring some Christmas joy to people,” Pastor Brooks Simpson said. The event also served as a vehicle for collecting donations for Iowa City Compassion and the North Liberty Food Pantry.
It was the first time the church had put on such an event, and 90 members volunteered to step up, plan and execute it over a three-week period. “Ideally you would have a long time to plan for something like this. We’re really proud of the hard work that our volunteers have put into this, and we’re just praying God uses it for his glory,” Simpson stated.
The volunteers built a replica of ancient Bethlehem around the edges of the church’s parking lot complete with the inn, which turned away Mary and Joseph, and the stable where Jesus was born. Volunteers in period attire moved along the edges greeting each other with “Shalom! (Peace!),” while bartering for goods, and tending to the live goats, calves, sheep, a llama, and even Jabara the camel.
“2020 has been a year where we’ve had to pivot on so many things. They said, ‘Hey, you can’t have services indoors,’ you have to learn how to adapt, how to do things different,” Simpson said. “So, we figured if we can host an outdoor service, which we did for most of the summer, we could do a real live Nativity.”
The church will live stream its Christmas Eve service on Thursday, Dec. 24, at 2 p.m. at www.graceb3.org.

PULL QUOTE
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.’” – Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)