Contributed by Julie Eardley, Elko Crèche Committee
November 29 – December 2
The Elko Regional Interfaith Christmas Crèche Exhibit committee invites
you to journey with them as they travel the road to Bethlehem at this year’s
14th Annual Exhibit. The theme for the exhibit is “The Road to Bethlehem”
with the focus being on the journey and likening the journey Mary and
Joseph took in their day, to our own journey towards Christ.
The exhibit will journey to Bethlehem by featuring Advent calendars — a step-by-step countdown to the birth of Jesus Christ. Traditionally, Advent occurs the four weeks prior to Christmas day. Advent is a season of preparation in anticipation and in celebration of the coming of the Christ child.
The tradition of the calendar dates back to the mid-19th century when German Protestants made chalk marks on doors or lit candles to count the days leading up to Christmas. The first printed calendar is believed to be to have been produced by Gehard Lang in the early 1900s. His calendar was inspired by an advent calendar his mother had made for him as a child, which was constructed of cardboard with 24 candies attached to it.
Along with the advent calendars, the exhibit is anticipating another stellar year of participation from the community in sharing their nativities that make up the exhibit. The exhibit averages upwards of 500 to 700 nativities each year in the form of figurines, quilts, wall hangings, paintings, illustrations, and ornaments.
This year the organizers would like to see more participation from the children. Children’s original art has been on display primarily from only a few church groups. The exhibit invites and welcomes more participation from any church or children’s organization, as well as individuals and families. Children are especially invited to create an advent calendar or nativity scene with a countdown. The can be a drawing or a coloring page, made from paper, fabric or felt, wood shapes (blocks, peg dolls, etc.), or whatever material they choose.
A live nativity re-enactment will also be presented. This short play is a good opportunity to be reminded of what all of the nativities on display are really about. The re-enactment will be repeated several times during the exhibit.
25th Annual Messiah Sing-along
The Messiah Sing-along is the climax of the exhibit each year, and this year the sing-along is celebrating 25 years, with the last 14 years in conjunction with the Crèche Exhibit. The sing-along began in 1993 when the Elko Religious Leaders Association was looking for an event which could bring together each of their congregations and the community to fellowship one with another. The sing-along mixes soloists and the congregation joining together to sing George Frideric Handel’s oratorio Messiah.
In the beginning, soloists were chosen by audition. The soloists are now chosen by invitation. Current sing-along organizer Saralu Skidmore was first asked to be a soloist in 1997 by original organizer, Kay Quist. “I was so honored to be a part of this event,” says Skidmore. She has been part of the sing-along since that time— singing, organizing, or both.
Many talented soloists have performed over the past 24 years including, Bob Colbert, Ron Skidmore, and Courtney Welch, who are still participating. Before moving from the Elko area, Robin Ballew was a long-time soloist. She also helped to organize the sing-along for many years. Gail Mierns, who is now assists Skidmore in organizing the sing-along, has also performed as a soloist.
As important as the soloists are, accompanists also play a major role in the sing-along’s success. This year the sing-along will have the pleasure of being accompanied with piano and organ by Ann Louise Alger and Connie Muir. Both have accompanied the sing-along over the years, along with Mike Polise. Polise played for several years prior to his move to Florida. Highlighting the 20th Annual Messiah Sing-Along, Polise was joined by the Elko Community Orchestra.
“I believe that having the Messiah sing-along at the end of the Crèche weekend is a wonderful event to finish off the celebration of Christ’s birth here in our community,” says Skidmore. “Our goal is still the same—to bring together people of all faiths to sing together the beautiful Messiah songs. It is wonderful to sing praises to our Lord. This music is inspired and lifts your heart while singing.”
Skidmore add the invitation that they always hope for many people to attend either singing or just listening.
The Messiah Sing-along is not the only music to be found at the Crèche Exhibit. Throughout the four-day event there will by performances by many community groups and individuals, including: Spring Creek High Expectations Choir, Elko High School Choraliers, Elko High School String Orchestra, Elko Handbells, Mountain View Elementary School Choir, Adobe Middle School Choir, Music Mosaics String Quartet, and a Spanish Choir.
Light the Community: Give as He Gave
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, we learn that our neighbor is anyone in need, even a stranger. (See St. Luke 10:25-37). In our personal journey to Christ, we can become more like Him when we give as He gave.
The exhibit is collecting warm, winter items for the homeless in the area. This year the exhibit is pleased to be partnering with Underdog Street Ministries in this effort. For more than seven years, Underdog Street Ministries has served those who are experiencing homelessness in the community. Their mission statement is to help the chronically homeless in Elko with life-sustaining needs…whatever that may be.
During the winter months, life-sustaining needs include items to keep warm and protect from the weather. Those attending the exhibit, as well as anyone who would like to help, may bring donations to the exhibit. Suggested items that would be of most benefit are:
• Wool or Heavily Insulated gloves
• Wool socks
• Hand warmers
• Insulated boots
• Sleeping bags (Winter-rated)
• Heavy and durable quilts
• Propane heater fuel
• Restaurant & Fast Food Gift Cards
The Road to Bethlehem
“As God’s children, we are all unique and special, and so is our life’s journey. Both temporally and spiritually, our life can be filled with hardships, happiness, difficulties, and joy. This Christmas season, each day, may we all take a step closer to Jesus Christ in our journey, by coming to know and understand the purpose of His birth. And as we focus on the Savior of the World, we can receive true peace, that only He can give. Take the journey, travel the road, and retrace the footsteps of Mary and Joseph as we countdown the days to the Savior’s sacred birth.” – Sandy Ballard, Crèche Exhibit Director
The 14th Annual Elko Regional Interfaith Christmas Creche exhibit will open Thursday, November 29 and run through Sunday, December 2 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints West Stake Center, 3001 North Fifth Street in Elko. The exhibit is open from 11:00 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day, with free admission.
Musical performances and the live nativity begin at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. There will be musical performance all day on Saturday, with the live nativity being repeated several times throughout the afternoon. Sunday’s performances begin at 4:00 p.m., with the Messiah Sing-along at 5:00 p.m.
All are invited to share and display their nativities and faith-based advent calendars. Children’s artwork should be brought in on Tuesday, November 28, anytime from 8:00 a.m. to 6 p.m. Nativities and other advent calendars are to be set up on Wednesday, November 28 from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Pick up of all items will be on Monday, December 3, 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Detailed information and the performance schedule can be found at facebook.com/elkocreche, or www.elkocreche.org.