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Bringing the story of Christmas to life

Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church will be presenting "The Journey" on Dec. 11-12 as part of its Christmas celebration. The production features musical talent that will surprise guests.

"The Journey" tells the story of a modern day mother and her inquisitive 10-year-old son who asks her to read the Christmas story to him as she tucks him into bed on Christmas Eve.

Cathy Youngblood, who co-directs the production with Kathy Larson, says this story was just the type of piece they were looking to do during the Christmas season.

"We are always on the lookout for ways to connect what people have come to think of as 'old stories' - the biblical account of Jesus' birth, for one - to our 21st-century life, to show his relevance to us today."

As the character of the mother agrees to read the Christmas story, biblical accounts surrounding the birth of Christ come to life in drama and song on other parts of the stage.

Also included is a ballet scene in which eight angels dance around sleeping shepherds. Between biblical scenes, the audience sees the woman and her son reflect on what they're watching. The climax comes when the mother makes the connection between God's love for Jesus and her own love for her son.

The subtitle on the program for "The Journey" says, "One moment from heaven can change you forever."

"Many people's lives are empty and they are looking for something to fill them. Christmas can be a challenge because it is so easily focused on material things. ... It is our desire to present a life-changing alternative that we believe can and does fill our empty places," said Youngblood.

Good Shepherd Church has about 200 members. The church currently is reaching out to an elementary school, a men's home for the developmentally disabled and a low-income apartment complex that are all in the immediate neighborhood.

The church's small groups also meet once a week in various neighborhood "hot spots" to interact with their neighbors. One small group also has formed a service called "Helping Hands" that will assist anyone in the community with minor home repairs, grocery shopping, yard work and more.

Good Shepherd pastor Robert Austell uses the analogy of a lighthouse and a searchlight for what the church strives to be.

Cathy Youngblood said that "a lighthouse draws people to itself and helps them through rocky passages, and a searchlight goes out and actively looks for those in need."

She said "The Journey" is a lighthouse event: "We hope many will be drawn to it and be helped in some way this Christmas season."

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