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Live nativity at Calvary Christian Reformed
Two Ripon teens, Marijke Bishop playing the part of Mary and Ben DeRuiter as Joseph cradle a newborn Jesus in the manager of Calvary Christian Reformed Church where a live Nativity will draw members of the community Thursday and Friday nights, Dec. 11-12. - photo by Photo Contributed
RIPON — The Christmas Story “The Living Nativity” is set for Thursday and Friday nights, Dec. 11-12, outside Ripon’s Calvary Reformed Church at the corner of Second and Vera avenues.

Two Ripon Christian High School seniors Marijke Bishop and Ben DeRuiter will be playing the parts of Mary and Joseph in one of several stations community members will visit on their walk through history between 6 and 9 p.m.

The first of the stations dramatizing the birth of Christ sees the filling out of the census papers,   followed by meeting with Isaiah and hearing the angel speaking to Mary.  Bill Dirksen has taken the part of Isaiah and Phil Weerheim that of the wise man.

In taking on the part of Mary, Marijke said she had never been in a nativity presentation before.  While she is a member of Almond Valley Christian Reformed Church she said she often visits Calvary where she was happy to help.

As a young child she always set up the nativity scene at her grandmother’s home, she said.  

“In setting up the scene she always looks so happy and content even though the situations weren’t the best.  She was very young to give birth to a child and was not married.  I can’t imagine that she was on a journey for that long from Nasereth to Bethlehem,” she said. “It was definitely motherly love!”

In the moving real life display Roman soldiers are  scripted to be walking with the guests on their trek to Bethlehem.  The inn keeper played by Don Rowe, the shepherds and the angels will all give a background of realism to the scenes as they prepare to visit the starlit manager and the newborn baby Jesus and his parents surrounded by live animals.

Ben DeRuiter said he hopes in playing the part of Joseph he hopes that people who haven’t heard the story will better understand what we believe.  Even though Joseph wasn’t Jesus’ biological father, he was the one who brought him up and showed him how to live, the teen said.

DeRuiter has been part of pervious Nativity scenes – one in the seventh grade and another last year when he was a junior in high school when he played the part of one of the town’s people in the market place.

As for this year, DeRuiter said the cast members have a script they have to memorize.

Bill Dirksen, in the part of Isaiah, said “We’re doing exactly what scripture says.  It’s really a good feeling to be part of that.  It’s a lot of fun for me and for the others.”
Dirksen, 79, said he attended a “little one horse school” in Iowa that had all eight grades with only nine children.  “We always sang Christmas carols and put on a program for our parents – it was a big thing,” he said.  Dirksen remembered there were only four students younger than he was with only about three in the first grade.  “You don’t have much to pick from with four,” he quipped.

Members of the public are urged to dress warmly and be aware that hot chocolate is on tap for everyone at the end of the performance.  The Calvary Church members say this is their Christmas gift to the community.