The church last held the event, involving some 200 participants, in 2008.
For Tammy Garcia, one of the 200, the re-creation is a spiritually moving antidote to commercialism.
“It’s a lot of hard work during this time of year...but we do it joyfully and happily. It’s needed because it feels like we’re becoming more and more secular,’’ she said.
Garcia, 48, gets upset when she thinks about how the religious nature of the holiday seems to be fading.
“For me it’s such an emotional thing. When I hear somebody call a Christmas tree a holiday tree, that’s not fair. Leave it be.’’
Her daughters, 10 and 8, participated in the pageant on Saturday and Sunday nights, while she made sure that a rotating cast of Holy Families, with real babies, had what they needed to portray their sacred scene.
“This for us is a way to pull away from personal struggles and immerse ourselves in faith,’’ Garcia said. “It’s bringing Christ to the community.’’
For the past three years, 37-year-old photographer Jean Haisce has been the pregnant Mary, suitably padded, for the Miami Shores Presbyterian Church Living Nativity, an extravaganza that includes live camels, donkeys and sheep.
Daughter Trinity, 6, who once starred as baby Jesus, this year became an angel. Son David, 8, sold fruit in the marketplace, and husband Charles became Gabriel.
That onlookers still want to visit the scene — this year in the rain — tells Haisce that “people do want to believe in something...They want to be reminded of something that has been perverted into commercialism. Here the whole church is trying to show you the story, and in this day and age, you have to show them, because a lot of people don’t read the Bible.’’
Haisce finds it “heartwarming’’ to watch parents point out her swollen belly to small children.
“That gives them the opportunity to explain the birth of Jesus, the real reason for the season.’’