On Tuesday night, she portrayed an angel in the manger scene while her husband, Duane, and 7-year-old son, Wes, depicted shepherds.
“We have been members of Sam Jones since 2012, and this is our third year participating in the scene,” Gravley said. “In previous years, we were street greeters, which entailed handing out fliers inviting passersby to our Christmas Eve services. I enjoyed the interaction with others and often had to turn down donations to the church as we were just inviting people to our services not asking for donations. The love and support we feel from the community is overwhelming. Oftentimes, people stop to take pictures and even park so that they may get more information about our church and the Christmas story.
“This year, my family and I had the pleasure of playing some of the crucial roles of that glorious night. ... It was so special for me to portray an angel because it is angels that God uses to relay messages to us. Angels played such a huge role in the story of Jesus’ birth. It was an angel that explained to Mary that God had chosen her to be Jesus’ mother.”
She continued, “Participating in the Living Nativity is just such an awesome experience to help my family and I imagine the events that took place before and after Jesus’ birth. It’s a reminder of how simple our Savior’s birth was. God did not make Jesus’ coming to Earth a huge flashy scene. Jesus didn’t come here to be served, he came to serve. Participating in something like this is a great reminder to love and serve one another like Jesus did. We thank God not just on Christmas, but every day for sending our Savior.”
Located on the corner of Church and Erwin streets in downtown Cartersville, Sam Jones Memorial UMC’s manger scene highlighted the birth of Christ, with area residents portraying religious figures, such as Mary and Joseph. Encompassing between 12 to 25 people each night, the display was presented from Dec. 19 to 24 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“In 2006, one of our church members, Steve Landrum, had the idea for the Living Nativity,” said Mary Parker, director of adult education at Sam Jones Memorial UMC. “The purpose was to share the story of Christ’s birth with the community. Through the years, participation has grown as more and more of our members make the Living Nativity part of their family’s Christmas tradition. There are also many community members that make driving by and seeing the nativity one of their Christmas traditions.
“Our senior pastor, Kevin Lobello, has been reminding us throughout Advent that ‘a baby changes everything.’ As onlookers drive by each night, we hope that they will take a moment to reflect on the reason why we celebrate Christmas. God’s gift of his Son, Jesus, changed everything for all that believe in him. Also, it is such a peaceful scene. We hope everyone that passes by takes a little bit of that Christmas peace with them.”
While the Living Nativity has concluded, Lobello invites area residents to worship at Sam Jones Memorial UMC’s Christmas service today at 11 a.m.
“With each passing year, it is more and more important for our children and families to spend some time celebrating the true meaning of Christmas,” Lobello said.
“It is vital that we find time to come to worship and share about the purpose and power of the Christ child.
“I would think that the Christian community will want to spend Christmas — that is Jesus’ birthday — in his house. If anyone does not have a place to worship this Christmas, I invite you to come to Sam Jones, 100 W. Church St.”