Last weekend, Sardis United Methodist Church held its live nativity on both Saturday and Sunday nights. It had been a few years since we’d been, so we made it a priority this year. Located on Powers Ferry Road near the intersection of Roswell Road, many don’t see this tiny church tucked in a residential neighborhood near Chastain Park.
The church itself was built in 1927, but the congregation has been around since the early 1800’s. Historians seem to think that Sardis UMC is the oldest church in Atlanta with a congregation forming as early as 1812. Unfortunately, an 1842 fire at the DeKalb County courthouse destroyed all records to substantiate that claim. Note that the location was part of DeKalb, before Fulton County was formed in 1853!
Arriving about 7 pm, church bells signaled that the performance was about to begin. Sitting on bales of hay, kids waited anxiously in front of an empty wood shelter. Parents and grandparents stood behind them waiting for the show to begin. Every once in a while, a small child dressed in an angel outfit would peer at the audience.
A voice on the loudspeaker boomed and the nativity story came to life. The angels, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds – complete with live animals filled the stable. Finally the three wise men dressed in elaborate costumes presented their gifts to the baby Jesus. At the end, the minister of Sardis welcomed us and invited us to get cookies and hot beverages near the sanctuary.
Chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, thumbprint cookies, etc. You name it, they had it. As a church member gave me a cup of hot chocolate, kids petted the live animals. Stepping inside the sanctuary, a woman was playing Christmas hymns on an autoharp.
For a small, live nativity with friendly folks, make this part of your Christmas tradition. It is usually held the second weekend in December. For more information, visit Sardis United Methodist Church.