Living nativity scene on Christmas Eve in Grass Valley |

Living nativity scene on Christmas Eve in Grass Valley

Peace Lutheran Church organist and Music in the Mountains founder Paul Perry will play great music of the season during free mini-concerts Wednesday afternoons before Christmas at Peace Lutheran Church, 828 W. Main St., Grass Valley (near downtown).
Submitted photo |

Actors depicting the Holy Family will surprise those attending the 4 p.m. Christmas Eve service at Peace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley.

A living nativity scene is new for the church, and worshipers will discover it when they leave the sanctuary at the end of the service, said the Rev. David Mullen, the church’s presiding minister.

It will be a simple representation of the Holy Family in a stable, with church members playing Mary and Joseph, Mullen said.

It’s akin to the crèche created by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 in a cave outside the village of Greccio, Italy.

By then, the Catholic Church already had a long history of using drama to teach the lessons of the Bible. But legend credits Francis with being the first to bring an ox and a donkey to a cave, fill an animal trough with hay, and place a carved wax baby on the hay as a backdrop for his simple sermons to the area’s humble people.

At Peace, the 4 p.m. service on Dec. 24 will feature favorite Christmas carols, Bible verses describing the birth of Jesus and Holy Communion. At 10 p.m., a traditional “high church” service of Festival Holy Communion will include the Peace Choir and church organist Paul Perry.

A children’s Christmas program, depicting the story of the angel visiting Joseph, will be performed at 8:45 and 11 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 15.

Free Wednesday concerts

In addition, the church is offering free, weekly mini-concerts in December as part of its observance of Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas. Each concert will feature Perry playing sacred and seasonal music that links modern listeners with spiritual seekers across the centuries. Each half-hour concert will be followed by a half-hour of prayer and meditation.

These midweek services have been a traditional offering to the community; there is no charge, and no offering will be taken.

Concerts start at 4:45 p.m. in the sanctuary every Wednesday before Christmas.

Concert dates are:

— Wednesday: Music features Nevada City violinist and Peace member Ann Gaines in works by Bach and Handel.

— Dec. 18: Music includes the Peace Brass Ensemble. Member Rebekah Shuholm, a Nevada Union High School sophomore, won a spot on the California State Honors Band with her trumpet-playing.

Other ensemble members are Peter Johnson on trumpet, Chuck Schroeder on trombone and Phil Richardson on French horn.

Peace Lutheran Church is at 828 W. Main St., near downtown Grass Valley.

For more information, visit or call 530-273-9631.

Grass Valley resident Trina Kleist can be reached at or 530-575-6132.

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