“The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!‘” — John 1:29
Christmas at the Library has begun, and many are enjoying viewing the live nativity animals not only in the evenings, but also at the petting zoo from noon to 2 p.m. The variety of animals reflects many of those that may have been found when Jesus was born, including a camel named Eva, cattle, a donkey and more. The live nativity’s newest member—a newborn lamb named Noel—has captured the attention of several attendees. Here are a few experiences from the Library’s recent visitors.
A Family Tradition
Four generations came to the Billy Graham Library to spend an afternoon together with the live nativity animals. A great-grandmother, grandmother, mother and four daughters gathered around the sheep pen intently watching the newborn lamb, Noel, who was born on Monday, Nov. 27.
Unable to reach Noel to pet her from over the fence, one of the girls was helped by her grandmother to slip her hand through an open gap in the fencing. Before visiting the Library, the girl had been practicing baaing lamb noises in the car. She and her sisters agreed their favorite animal was the little lamb.
Nancy Breenneman, grandmother to the four girls—eight-year-old twins, a five-year-old and an eight-month-old—said the family had been to the Library many times over the past four or five years. They often came and enjoyed picnics there in the summers, and Nancy and her daughter attended a ladies’ night a few years ago.
The Library is “the place where we find peace and quiet,” Nancy said. Her daughter constantly encourages the family to return, saying, “We need to go to the Library and be still.”
A Family’s First-Time Experience
Although Tara and Eric Altenbach frequently heard about the Library over the years, they recently visited for the first time after learning there were animals on-site to celebrate Christmas. They brought their three-year-old son, Blake, to pet the live nativity animals, knowing he would enjoy interacting with them in the daylight.
Blake’s favorite animal was the newborn lamb, Noel. The lamb skipped around her mother, putting on quite the show. Blake watched, smiling from ear to ear.
After awhile, he tugged on his father’s hand, excited to visit the other animals. He went over and petted the Highland cow, laughing and clapping joyfully before moving on to pet “The Dotted Llama,” whose name accurately describes its appearance. The family was all smiles as they completed their time at the Library, holding up Blake so he could reach over the fence to pet the donkey.
A Nice Surprise of ‘More than Books’
Laura Landgraff and Herb Dixon came to the Library with their exercise class. The group had come to take a tour of the Library, which Laura had assumed to be a library full of just books. Laura, who moved to South Carolina a few years ago for retirement, was surprised to find that the Library was much more than that—a “very thorough” museum with a “tremendous amount of history.”
While there, Herb wheeled Laura around the live nativity area, and the pair spent time petting the animals, particularly The Dotted Llama. The llama began to nip at Laura’s short hair. She joked, “I just got my hair done!” As Herb grabbed a selfie with the llama, Laura was ready to see the baby lamb.
The pair was delighted and mesmerized by the Noel, who playfully hopped around. Herb stopped to take several pictures of the live nativity’s smallest member, collecting memories of their day at the Library.
It seems that everyone’s favorite animal at the Library’s live nativity this season is the newborn lamb, Noel. How fitting that an innocent baby is the highlight of the season and a reminder of Jesus, the Lamb of God.
The live nativity animals are available for petting Monday through Saturday from noon to 2 p.m. through December 23.
Christmas activities begin at 5 p.m at the Library, which is closed on Sundays. Find out more about Christmas at the Library.