By Lindsay Peyton

Shoppers will get a glimpse of Bethlehem at Houston’s Gallery Furniture this winter. Two performances of the live Nativity are scheduled at 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9 outside the showroom located at 6006 N. Freeway. Memorial Drive UMC is producing the celebration of Jesus’ birth.

Cara Adams, community outreach coordinator for Gallery Furniture, was planning Christmas events for the showroom, when she had a vision. She pictured inviting guests to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas with a live Nativity scene.

“I used to teach Sunday school,” Adams said. “And I thought it would be so beautiful and nice to have.”

Live Nativities allow children to become immersed in the Christmas story. Watching it come to life before their eyes is sure to have a lasting impact, Adams explained.

Adams brought the idea to Gallery Furniture owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale. “Mack is a very big Christian,” she said. “And he decided, ‘Let’s do it.’”

The next task was finding the right performers for the event – and Adams knew right away who to ask. “Let me call the best Nativity scene in town,” she said.

Memorial Drive UMC is in her neighborhood – and she had attended the church’s live Nativity in the past. “Everybody goes to it,” she said. “It’s just a staple in the community for the holidays. I’ve seen it, and I know how good it is. Everyone loves it.”

Memorial Drive’s director of youth ministry Mark Bogart explained that the Nativity has been a staple on the church calendar for decades. “We’ve done it forever,” he said. “They’re certainly folks that are now coming as parents, who participated as children — and I’m one of them.”

For the time-honored tradition at the congregation, clergy read Scripture, students play Mary and Joseph, the shepherds, angels and Wise Men and, of course, there are animals to complete the scene. “It really offers the opportunity to experience this beautiful narrative,” Bogart said. “Children – and people of all ages – love storytelling. And this is the greatest story ever told.”

Bogart was pleasantly surprised – and honored – to receive a call from Adams about bringing the show to Gallery Furniture this year. He is a major fan of McIngvale’s and said that for Houstonians, the store is a landmark. “Mattress Mack loves Jesus, and he loves our city,” Bogart said. “The fact that they chose us, it was like, ‘We’ve got to do it.’”

Adams was similarly thrilled when Memorial Drive UMC jumped on board – and now is eager to host the congregation. “It means so much to me, the story of Jesus and His birth,” she said. “We have families who come from all over during the holidays, and this will be a great way for them to make special memories with each other.”

Adams is confident that this will become a new tradition at Gallery Furniture. “This year will be great for us – to have our first live Nativity,” she said. “Then, hopefully we can do it again next year.”

On Tuesday, Dec. 13, Memorial Drive UMC will also host three performances – at 5:30 p.m., 6 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – on its campus, 12955 Memorial Dr. in Houston. “You don’t have to be a member to attend,” Bogart said. “We see a lot of familiar faces each year.”

He added that children, parents and grandparents alike light up when they see the Nativity. Everyone joins in the magic of Christmas. “I am such a sucker for wonder,” he said. “When you see children experiencing the birth of Jesus, the joy, the smiles, it’s just really great.”