Some gifts cannot be bought.
In the case of several area churches, the dramas, drive-through nativities and Christmas stories are all free of charge.
“It is our gift to the community,” said Riverside United Methodist Church pastor Chip Strickland.
For more than two decades, Riverside UMC has been staging a drive-through live nativity at the church.
It takes nearly 140 people to put on the 10 scenes that are displayed for three hours each night. The nativity began Thursday and is open through Saturday.
We want to introduce the story of Jesus to people who may not know who he is or who may not go to church.
“Christmas has become so commercialized. We want to show the true meaning of Christmas through God’s greatest gift, his son, Jesus Christ,” Strickland said.
Riverside, along with Strongtower Fellowship and La Mano Poderosa de Jesus, come together to tell the Christmas story.
It takes an average of 10-20 minutes to drive through the scenes, and about 1,800 cars go through each night.
A short drive away, Highland Hills Baptist Church sets up its live Christmas drama in the outside amphitheater each year. Held at 7 p.m. Sunday, this is the 25th performance of the nativity scene.
An original script by Cass DuCharme and other church members, the Christmas story comes alive with characters, live animals and songs.
This year, the story focuses on the perspective of the shepherd, played by Jeff Browne. The other two shepherds are played by his son, Ben Browne, and Shaw London.
“It has been a neat tradition for us all of these years. We want to bring the story of Christmas to the community,” DuCharme said.
In case of inclement weather, the drama will be performed indoors. Afterward, there will be hot chocolate and cookies in the fellowship hall.
In Warner Robins, Oakland Baptist Church will host a live nativity story at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Nearly all of the 130 church members participate in the event, said church secretary Linda Farmer.
The set-up has been going on for two months, as workers have been building the props since October.
There will be 88 cast members who play the parts of Mary, Joseph, the wise men, the shepherds, angels and others.
“We want to introduce the story of Jesus to people who may not know who he is or who may not go to church,” Farmer said.
The performances last 45 minutes and Farmer suggests arriving early to get a seat. Last year, about 2,000 people attended the drama.
Parking will be available at Houston County Career Academy, 1311 Corder Road, and shuttles will take event-goers to the church.
For a little longer drive through the countryside, head to the 10th annual Drive Through Bethlehem at Bethany Baptist Church in Cochran.
The event will be held from 6-8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and will feature animals, blacksmiths, Roman soldiers and villagers, according to the church’s website.
Riverside United Methodist Church, 735 Pierce Ave., Macon. 478-746-4778. 6:30-9:30 p.m. Dec. 10
Highland Hills Baptist Church, 1370 Briarcliff Road, Macon. 478-746-4846. 7 p.m. Dec. 11
Live Nativity Story
Oakland Baptist Church, 1509 Russell Pkwy., Warner Robins. 478-923-3533. 7 p.m. Dec. 10-11
Drive Through Bethlehem
Bethany Baptist Church, 608 Ga. 26 East, Cochran. 478-934-7151. 6-8 p.m. Dec. 10-11