The story was familiar, even to the children who have celebrated only a few Christmases so far.
"A long, long time ago, in a place called Israel..."
Jason Freyer, director of high school ministry at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair, narrated the tale of the Nativity on Saturday to a fellowship hall full of folks for the Breakfast at the Manger event.
Mr. Freyer introduced various church members and friends who entered the room dressed as familiar players in the Greatest Story Ever Told, from shepherds and wise men to, of course, Jesus, Mary and Joseph.
Mr. Freyer said he has enjoyed his role as narrator at the annual event for the past five years, providing youngsters with a way of to view the holidays that doesn't involve toy commercials and "A Michael Buble Christmas."
"We like to try to keep the reason for the season," said Upper St. Clair resident Cindy Michalewsky, who attended the breakfast with her husband, Craig, and her children, Andrew, 6, and Megan, 3.
Families enjoyed breakfast prepared by church volunteers.
"This is one of our favorite events that the church has," said Merrideth Leggat, also of Upper St. Clair. She is glad to reinforce the meaning of Christmas for her children, Lily, 9, and twins Olivia and Jake, 5.
As Mr. Freyer started telling about the meaning of Christmas, his friends Matt and Jennifer Haas of Bradford Woods entered the room dressed in costume as Mary and Joseph. At 6 weeks old, their daughter Evelynn is close enough in age to a newborn to portray Jesus. Their other daughter, 3-year-old Kate, joined the entourage dressed as a farm animal.
Following the Nativity program, families were invited to participate in craft-making activities and to take photos -- in costume, if they wanted -- at the manger scene set up in the fellowship hall, as a reminder of the story of Christmas.
Harry Funk, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.