A 35-year-old tradition is being revived thanks to First Baptist Church Alcoa.
“The Promise” is First Baptist Alcoa’s Living Christmas Tree presentation and will be the church’s first Living Christmas Tree since 1991.
“We decided to bring it back,” said Brittiany Hodge, worship arts assistant at First Baptist Alcoa.
Rocky Hodge, who is Brittiany’s father and is worship arts pastor at FBC Alcoa, grew up performing in the Living Christmas Tree at Wallace Memorial Baptist Church in Knoxville. Rocky said the music minister at Wallace Memorial introduced the Living Christmas Tree to First Baptist Alcoa.
“I always wanted to do one, and we decided to move forward with it,” Rocky said.
It’s not an easy task.
The performance at First Baptist Alcoa involves more than 200 volunteers to make it happen. The “tree,” which must first be constructed, is 15-feet deep and 20-feet high and holds 78 singers.
Volunteers helped to strand the lights, sew the costumes and build the set.
“It’s great fellowship, and they receive the blessing of serving the Lord by sharing their trades,” Rocky said. “This is something everyone can be a part of.”
One of his goals in pulling the elaborate production together, said Rocky, is to try and involve whole families so they can participate together. Brittiany agreed, adding that they have had volunteers of all ages including a 10-week-old baby and seniors participating in the production.
In addition to the efforts of the volunteers, Brittiany and Rocky Hodge began the planning stages of the Living Christmas tree after Easter last year.
The choir began rehearsal in late August. Shortly after, the narration of the skits were written and over Thanksgiving the Christmas tree was assembled and put up.
While the work can be tiring and stressful, Brittiany said all the efforts are worth it. “The motto is ‘Christ is center stage’ and if one person gets to know Christ, it’s worth it,” she said.
As for the production, it has several parts and elements to bless the community with the meaning of Christmas.
“The first half will get people into the Christmas spirit,” Brittiany said. Secular songs and skits like “Sleigh Ride,” “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland” will be presented.
This is followed by the dramatic skits, designed to show glimpses of what a lot of people associate with the holiday season, shopping, traffic and the overall chaos that can overwhelm people.
The second half of the production is the journey to Bethlehem, with the story continuing through the arrival of the wise men. She said one unique element to their production is that they have more than three wise men. The Bible refers to the wise men and talks about the three gifts that were presented, but it never says exactly how many wise men there were, said Brittiany.
“We feel like many more wise men would have been looking for Christ,” Brittiany said. She added they have five wise men this year and their goal is to add more to the production each year.
“The Promise,” is a production that goes back and forth between a modern family and Biblical times, according to Brittiany, and is ultimately about “the one true promise that is fulfilled.”
In the first half, the skits show a father of two children who does not necessarily live up to his promises and is not there for his children all the time. In the second half, it is the story of Simeon, the man in the temple who was promised he would see the Messiah before he died.
“It solidifies that (Jesus) is the one true promise, and He is always faithful and true to his promise,” Brittiany said. “God will never fail us.”
The Promise also promises to deliver a spectacular light show. Brittiany said that 64,000 purple, green, orange, red, blue and white lights are used and sometimes they all light up simultaneously, and sometimes only two or three colors are used together.
In addition to being a gift to the community, the Living Christmas Tree at First Baptist Alcoa also serves as a blessing to Second Harvest Food Bank. Half of the offering collected at each performance will go to Second Harvest.
“This is another way we can give back,” Rocky said.
To pick up free tickets for the performances scheduled for December 11, 12 and 13 at 7 p.m., contact the church office at 865-982-2661 or request tickets online at www.fbalcoa.org.