Mary and Joseph are there, as you might expect, but the situation looks a lot different. The big bowl game's just around the corner, and the hotels are filling up quickly. And just when it looks like the young couple will have their baby in peace, the government in Bethlehem, Ga., needs something else from them.
Hickory Valley Christian Church will host "What If ...? A Nativity Story," a modern adaptation of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ, on Sunday, Dec. 18.
"I want it to become real, not a fairy tale people will tell every Christmas," said Alex Henderson, director of children's ministries at the church, author of the play and its co-director. "I want them to connect with Mary and other characters and how they relate to God."
He said he and other church staff members wanted to offer a Christmas production that used the adult choir, the children's choir and actors of a wide range of ages.
"It's hard to find that out on the market," Henderson said. "We brainstormed and decided to write our own."
The production, written largely from biblical passages in Matthew and Luke, involves some 20 adult choir members, 17 children's choir members and 18 actors, he said.
The production includes seasonal music from the choirs, according to Henderson, but "the songs are not moving the story along."
The music includes several Christmas carol medleys and favorite songs from different cantatas the choir has done in the last several years, he said.
The hymn "O Come O Come Emmanuel" also threads through the production, Henderson said. He and the choir directors, Robert Brymer (adults) and Kristie Henderson (children), he said, "thought that was real important -- that this is the expectation of the Savior, the Messiah."
Henderson said he'd like visitors to leave "knowing that they can have [a close] relationship with God, with Jesus."
A cheesecake reception follows the production. Donations will defray expenses for the church's youth trip to the Tennessee Christian Teen Convention in January.