Sunday, December 5, 2010

A Star Is Born

A train races across the prairie, heard by thousands as it streams by at the crossings. Little is thought of these moments out on the prairie, perhaps never even thought about that much.

A star rises above the fields, to be seen by all who pass.

Two travelers are looking for shelter, and so begins a story of love.

Others follow through these fields.

A shepherd leads the flocks.

And so begins another year for a testament of love for Carol Moothart, leading her flock toward another new beginning. This tiny church with a big heart offers happiness to many.

I was traveling back from a photo shoot last year and passed this display and was moved by the portrayal in a field. I laughed when I saw the name of the church was Prairie View United Methodist Church. It spoke to me of course, and told of the strength held in the peoples that made up the congregation from the tiny surrounding communities out on the prairie.
So this year I was happy to go and help set up this display.I wanted to be part of the tradition held in their hearts.I wanted to share with others the spirit of Christmas, and how simple it really is. It was impressive how such a small group can make the difference for many. A few weeks ago they passed out thousands of pounds of potatoes to those in need for the holiday.

This week they again tend to peoples spirit and faith, building up memories of holidays past.

This is a short article I wrote last year for the United Methodist Women.

When we view a scene depicting the birth of Christ it often brings to us a variety of stories, songs and bible verse we have all learned throughout our lives. It was a visage that we as devout Christians hold dear in our hearts to further develop our spiritual beliefs and share with those we love. We have learned and relearned this affirmation of faith through discussion and reading the Gospels of Luke and Matthew throughout the centuries.

The angels sang to the shepherds in the field, "Glory to the Most High God and peace on earth among those He favors." I heard this song while passing Prairie View United Methodist Church near Ollie, Iowa and finding a remarkable scene set up on both sides of the church. Carol Moothart with the help of the Methodist men; place this out each year, after bringing it from where she grew up in Keota, Iowa. She had admired it for many years before purchasing it with her husband as a memorial gift to both their parents. She has added to the original scene, and even placed a shed on the property to house it during the rest of the year. She remarked one of the best times to view it is at night when a gentle prairie breeze moves the clothing, offering a very realistic vision of the coming of our Lord.

On the east side in a farm field she has a shepherd leading a small flock, including one black sheep, with a border collie at the flocks side. They follow four camels carrying three Wisemen. Jesus' teachings often employ the image of a field to signify the world, and these are all placed aptly in a farm field for the world to enjoy. Matthew tells us of three types of gifts, but references to how many were actually bearing these gifts differs. A star on the church steeple leads all to this point of worship. The star in the Bible moved in the direction for those to follow and is often depicted in other verse as an angel.

On the west side of the church is Mary riding a donkey lead by Joseph. They approached a city full of people, possibly Jews entering the city for the Feast of Trumpets. Here they approach a very beautiful church set on the prairie. It was passing by this church that reminded me what we really celebrate this season, and throughout the year. My prayers and praise to the members of Prairie View United Methodist Church who help spread this joy each year. Hopefully, it has the same draw to all those who pass as it did for me.


  1. What an awesome display that is. Beautiful shots. I can't blame you for wanting to be a part of this.

  2. Oh how fabulous, Steve... How great that you could help in the setting up of this wonderful Nativity this year. I am a retired United Methodist Minister ---so that makes me proud of 'my' church in Iowa. But--it's not about denominations... I attend the Episcopal Church these days with my husband who is Episcopalian. I think it's any church where you feel the presence of God at work in the people... Thanks for sharing.

    God Bless You and that little church in Iowa,

  3. I happily declare your post has added to my Christmas spirit I'm actively seeking. I loved the pictures and am reminded of the simple message that most of us have known since the beginning of 'our' time.
    For lack of a better term, my 'manger' is slowly filling up and I'm well on my way today! Thank you!

  4. I enjoyed every word and picture. It reminds me of why I left the big city, settled in rural Fillmore county, taught and raised a family here. Small town and rural people the spirit of Christmas and America...

  5. Great! Now that's a true example of the Christmas spirit!

  6. That is the meaning of Christmas, isn't it? Thanks for sharing your article, Steve!

  7. There are some similar displays here in my area -- homemade and fit into the scenery so well. :)

  8. Hey Steve, great post on the meaning of Christmas. I'm so glad you shared your article with these photos.

  9. What a cool way to share in the spirit of the season.

  10. What a beautiful and creative display. The love that goes into setting it up is apparent. Thanks for sharing the photos and story.

  11. Seeing the photos and reading this post, Steve, reminds me that the Christmas spirit is really here in the simple deeds of others. It was nice of you to help out.

  12. What a terrific photo of the train at night! But more important, thanks for reminding us all of the true spirit of Christmas, and a Merry Christmas to you!

  13. What a wonderful thing this is!! And how great that you were a part of the "setting up" of it this year....Beautiful story about a very special Holiday Happening!

    Thanks for coming by and for your sweet comment.

  14. This looks amazing at night, I wish I were close enough to visit it myself. You're so right about the trains, after we left the prairie we moved here to a place without trains and I didn't notice it missing until reminded just now.

  15. Prairie life. A simple life. Can't beat it. What remarkable gestures. And what a heartwarming post.


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