From Christmas to the Cross

February 21, 2023

GENTRY, ARK. – She was probably only three- or four-years-old. As she stood there, with the bright, innocent eyes of a child taking in the scene around her, she saw the costumed beggars, the soldiers towering on horseback above her and the merchants calling out their wares on Bethlehem’s streets. The smell of hay, the soldiers’ horses and calves munching grass in their tiny enclosure filled the air around the “village.” This is how Ozark Adventist Academy’s live nativity, ”From Christmas to the Cross”, began. On Dec. 16-17, 2022, each of the 500 people who walked through the 11 scenes in this re-enactment of some of the most important scenes from the life of Christ, started in Bethlehem.

For many, the story was not a new one. But, for this little girl with her eyes open wide in wonder, some of it was. She knew the story of there being no room in the inn, and she knew the story of Jesus being born in the manger. And as she walked through each of the scenes, she took in more of the story. She saw the re-enactment of the wise men giving their gifts, the feeding of the five thousand and the blind man who was healed.

But, as she moved past the scene of the plotting priests, she started to see a part of the story she had not seen before. And as the soldiers talked of crucifying Christ, tears began to slide down her innocent face. And standing under the cross, like the disciples, she didn’t yet see the resurrection in the next scene. She hadn’t yet heard the song, “My Redeemer Lives”, break the silence. It was here on Ozark Adventist Academy’s campus she realized the complete story and saw the full picture. It was here she learned that Christ died and rose again. 

This is why Judy Fetters spent so many hours planning and organizing Ozark Adventist Academy’s live nativity. This is why Ozark’s students, staff and volunteers stood in the cold dressed in their period costumes and why so many members from Northwest Arkansas churches volunteered to build and install the sets, to bake cookies and drive shuttles to and from the start of the nativity. Because Jesus said, “Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of such is the kingdom of God.”

By Debbie Upson