Home & Family

The Christmas Miracle in Wadena, Minnesota

nativityThis year, in a small Minnesota town named Wadena, a Christmas miracle is taking place. The nativity scene, or crèche, has been a long-standing part of the town’s religious and historic tradition. Each year, the nativity scene is erected on city property in a park in the center of town. Recently, a self-described atheist took issue with the scene, decrying that religious displays have no place in public spaces. His anti-Christmas and anti-Christian attitude has been likened to the character of Scrooge by many people. The Freedom from Religion Foundation, a group based out of Wisconsin, jumped on the atheist’s bandwagon and threatened to sue the City of Wadena on the grounds of separation of church and state.

The city council regrettably agreed to remove the nativity scene. They sold the manger display to the Wadena Ministerial Association for $25 to showcase elsewhere on private property. Nearly the whole town mourned the removal of the Nativity display from the park, for it remained an enduring religious symbol and important part Wadena’s identity for 40 years. Many of the town’s residents prayed for a miracle.  That’s when faith stepped in.  Yes, faith, not fate. Wadena resident Dani Sworski set forth a town challenge asking residents to bring back the spirit of Christmas. The creation of a Facebook page dedicated to the cause helped to unite and inspire the town. A goal was set to display manger scenes all over town.  Folks happily joined together to set up nativities in their yards, with neighbor helping neighbor. In addition, residents began rotating to reserve the town’s bandstand daily to display an inflatable nativity scene right near the old site of the original. The official total of nativity sets is now up over 1,000 with no official count yet. It’s possible that the small town of just over 4,000 residents may surpass the world record set by a Florida church in 2010, though there’s competition with a church in Ohio vying for the same record this year. One thing remains certain; you can’t crush the spirit of believers.

The nativity holds special meaning for many people. As a young child, I reflected upon the birth of Jesus, puzzled how one teeny tiny baby born in a manger could cause such a stir!  The pieces fit together as I grew to learn that God was to establish His Kingdom promised by prophets and angels by sending His only Son “in the flesh” to save us from sin. My favorite part of the story is how the three Wise Men followed a star to where Mary had given birth. Upon seeing Jesus, they bowed down to worship him. They offered gifts to the newborn King in the forms of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Let us vow to keep Christ in Christmas by proudly displaying our nativity scenes to share the good news of Jesus’ birth. Let us be thankful to be one nation under God in a country with religious freedom.  Merry Christmas!

Fun Fact: 

Saint Francis of Assisi created the first nativity scene in 1223 to promote the meaning of Christmas through a depiction of the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. This was done to place emphasis upon the worship of Christ rather than upon secular materialism. Most scenes typically contain baby Jesus in the manger; His mother, Mary; His earthly father, Joseph; shepherds, angels, and barn animals. Some contain the three Wise Men who came from the east. Today, these displays are well-known symbols of the Christmas season.

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC News App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
ANN in Jersey
5 years ago

Hooray for Wadena!!! Boo to their legislators. I am glad to see so many comments supporting this town but dismayed at the nit-pickers who are pointing out facts about which characters should be in the Christmas displays. My husband used to say, “We Christians are busy arguing over small differences in beliefs while the Muslims are taking over”

Barbara Capizzi
6 years ago

If we know our Constitution, freedom of association,speech and religion are guaranteed. No court should hear or allow such unconstitutional law suits. The Freedom from Religion group needs our prayers for Conversion and the Gift of Faith!!!!

Mark Hal
6 years ago

First and most important, congratulations to the people of Wadena for their Christmas spirit. God Bless them. What a great example to their children and everyone else.
Secondly, I am so sick of hearing about cowardly city councils and, in other cases, school administrations who discipline kids for wearing Christian themed shirts or write about their belief. School administrators need to check the law that was laid down by the Supreme Court of the U.S. and I know city councils would do well to respect the good spirited people in their town and not immediately bow in fear to a real minority and the fear of a few.

6 years ago

Yes, Judy, I, too, am proud of that town and am thankful that Jesus came to die for my sins. Yes, when the wise men visited Jesus, He was probably 2 years or younger (according to Herod’s orders to kill all baby boys two and younger). Yes, the wise men entered the “house where he was” not the stable. But it is more likely that that house was in Nazareth. Look at Luke 2:22 -39. Mary had to go to the temple for purification at 40 days after the birth of firstborn male. Verse 39 says that Joseph and Mary returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Cross reference that with Matthew 2:9. The Magi were told by Herod to go to Bethlehem, but no where in the text does it say that is where they went. It says they followed the star until it stopped over the place where the child was. In order to make Luke 2:39 true, they would have gone to the house in Nazareth. We squeeze the facts into one story. We are such impatient people. I just thank God that He was willing to become flesh, live sinless among us, then sacrifice Himself for my sins. What an awesome God!

6 years ago
Reply to  Grandma

Grandma: My apologies to you and to others who read my response to Jonathan on 12/22/15. My own grandmother, if she were still alive, would have been quick to point out that I miss-spoke (or in this case, miss-wrote) when I substituted Bethlehem for Nazareth in reference to the Wisemen finding Jesus. Since my intention was to encourage attention to the Biblical record, I’m glad you corrected my error. I also regret the delay in posting this response.

6 years ago

I am so proud of the town. But remember even though we put the wiseemen at the manger they really did not arrive until 2 years later at the house where they were living while still in Bethlehem. So they worshipped the young child not tty the newborn baby. I am so thankful He came to be born to die do that we might live.

6 years ago

The “Almighty Creator” works wonders in many different ways! Ray Comfort wrote a tremendous book entitled “Everything Came From Nothing” disputing the “Total Evolution Theory”! Christmas is a marvelous way to begin thinking along the lines of Jesus’s life and teachings! A Blessed Christmas to all!

6 years ago

The article and the actions of the Wadena residents are inspiring indeed. May their kind multiply exceedingly! However, as a careful student of the Bible, I would like to correct some inaccuracies that often appear in verbal or visual representatiions of the Nativity. These widely-accepted misconceptions long-communicated in various ways do not necessarily diminish the importance of the Nativity itself, but comparing the details of the Biblical record with what can be corroborated from histroy make God’s providential plan and purpose the more remarkable. Taken together, all of the items referenced remain important reminders of the time God sent His only begotten son to dwell among men. The support and/or proof for what I am about to write may be found in Matthew 1: 18-2:23 and Luke 2: 1-20.

First, although almost every Christmas pageant or cantata includes text portraying angels as singing, there is no mention in the Biblical record anywhere that angels sing. Instead a multitude of the “heavenly host” joined the first angel “praising God and “saying…” Next, the only “sign” given the shepherds to locate the holy infant was that they would find him “wraped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (think of the implications of that). There is no record that a star appeared above the stable (or cave) and the wisemen did not visit the family or worship him there. The star that led the wisemen to Jesus would have first appeared to them in their own country (no location mentioned but “east) at the time of Jesus birth and eventually guided them to Jesus. The practice of studying the stars along with religious beliefs of the day suggest these scholars could have belonged to a region that would have been considered a great distance from Palestine at the time. We only assume there were three wisemen because three gifts were presented. There had to be at least two since “wisemen” is plural, but there could have been more. Since Herod killed all of the babies in Bethlehem from two years of age and younger sometime after the wisemen had departed the area without returning to Jerusalem, and since Joseph had not been forwarned by an angel to flee to Egypt until after the wisemen’s visit to their “house,” we may conclude that the wisemen located the family in Bethlehem when Jesus could have been approximately years old or slightly younger.

I hope this may stimulate some further attention to the Biblical detail as you continue to contemplate the significance of the Birth of Jesus .

6 years ago
Reply to  TCO

OK TCO, one who will not allow his or her name to be published is most likely a troll…
It’s quite amazing, you, as with most of the others in the intellectual community, might take an opportunity to make so many assumptions. How all of sudden, as now, when we are in a time of religious persecution and desecration, that someone has discovered this list of assumptions as truth. This assumes that there was not a bible that other “wise” men could have taken knowledge from, as prophets had written these things, and that kings of many lands had taken as serious. These kings had taken these writings so serious that they had their seers put to death if they were not able to disceminate them. The authors of these writings were said to be sent from God. Proof they were sent from God because they understood how these “People of God”, the Isrealites, somehow were able to defeat many enemies with impossible odds and little weapons. How arrogant today’s individuals could think they are somehow wiser than thousands of years of philosophers and much smarter intellectuals. I do understand the stance of the atheist, I do understand as well what the goal of this sort of “theory as truth” dribble. I understand Karl Marx and his intentions as spreading a secular society and taking the heart out of the meaning of the words and the spirit of the words. I could go on and on about the “theory” you have presented and shoot down most of it. I will only say that it would behove you to troll some other sites and look for weaker folks with no knowledge of your mission. The meaning of Christmas will always be with us until the end of times. The evil intentions of this type of “theory” holds no water.
Understand that there is hope for you and as a Christian man I cannot condemn you but trolling with no facts and little faith is just despicable.

6 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Jonathan: I am surprised, even if not flattered, that you regard me as an “intellectual”; but I’m sorry that you also think me a “troll.” I have been a student of history, philosophy, political science, and science. But I am a Christian by faith and a Creationist by choice, having compared the inspired Biblical record with much of “science falsely so-called).

The gap between us (that you illustrate in your passionate but rather confusing reply) can only be bridged by you spending more time with the Bible and less time with the other material you referenced. The Bible is God’s inspired (“God-breathed”) commentary on Himself, the purpose of for all that he created, and the only means of redemption for mankind. Many of the world’s intellectuals (historians, mathematicians, lawyers, philosophers, poets and scientists) have eventually embraced the Truth of the very Bible they once spurned or previously set out to disprove. The combined knowledge of all the rest is not sufficient to regard them as wise. “Professing themselves to be wise, they have become fools” due to their hard-heartedness toward God, resulting in a self-induced blindness to the truth. You ought not to be led by people who are themselves blinded.

I hope you were able to enjoy a meaningful Christmas Day and rejoice in the celebration of THE Savior’s birth (John1:1-12; Acts 4:12).

Fred Roach
6 years ago

Not only at Christmas, but all the year through, people of faith in the Son of God are called to express their faith on their lips and in their lives. This is exactly what the people of Wadena have done. I give thanks for their witness.
With great anguish and regret, I must point out that any rational reading of Matthew 2 will reveal that the a wise Men never were at the manger. For one, they entered the house where Jesus was. Even in the Greek “house” cannot be confused with either stable or manger. And even in Jesus’ time, a house was no place for a manger. For another, those Wise Men arrived in Jerusalem because of the initial sighting of the star, that proclaimed the birth of “He Who is born King of the Jews.” This implies that the Wise Men took the initial sighting as the sign of His birth, coincident with His birth, and this makes Jesus at least several months old at their visit. Additionally, King Herod accepted the initial sighting as the sign of Messiah’s birth, and used that information to determine the age of the children to be killed. So, as fanciful and familiar as the traditional rendition seems, I prefer to believe the Bible’s teaching.

RJ Ronyak
6 years ago

I am Happy for the people in Wadena for standing their ground, I myself here have always set up a lighted Navitiy scene, mine has been life size for 14 years this year as I have gotten older an weaker, I bought a new mid-sized set an proudly display it lighted every nite, after all if Jesus wasn’t born on Christmas we would not have a Christ mas after all that what Christ mas is all about the birth of the Christ child an a Merry Christ mas to all an may God Bless

6 years ago

To Belinda:
Martin Luther King was not born on the 3rd Monday in January either!!!!
Does it matter?????
Let’s celebrate the birth of Jesus!!! It does not matter when we do it……

6 years ago

Belinda, I know that there is much speculation about the true date of Jesus birth and facts belie that He was born in the Winter. So what? I, and I’m am sure others celebrate his BIRTH, not his BIRTH DATE.

Jerry Huebsch
6 years ago

Good for Wadena, I live only 20 miles away in Perham, MN. And I have spoken to a number of people in the Perham area including pastors and ministers that next year (Christmas 2016), that Perham people can do the same. Hopefully other towns nearby will join in. Christians need to stand up for Our Lord.

6 years ago

The inconvenient truth is that Jesus was not born in December ….

Ivan Berry
6 years ago
Reply to  Belinda

If you don’t know when He was born, how can you know when not? I have always thought His birth was likely in November, but I don’t really know.
First things first, let’s work to get Congress replaced with Constitutional members who will honor their oath and abide by the first amendment. Let’s get Christianity out of the courts and influence our States to Nullify all unconstitutional renderings of the courts or the Congress or the Executive branches. Stop submitting and resist.

6 years ago

What an awesome way for people to come together and share the true meaning…….I applaud the town.

Our country was founded on freedom…The constitution is being torn apart….so now all they want to do is kiss butt to keep the minority of others that don’t believe as they do.

So the heck with our own freedom and they govt that doesn’t have the guts to stand up for whatever it is so they can pacify others to keep their votes is so petty and disgusting not to respect what others feel, it is usually only a short time and all comes down …… deal with it I say

So sad how our govt has made a mockery of our rights just to please other

Glenna S
6 years ago

I still say Merry Christmas. Most people say Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays so as not to offend someone. If you take Christ out of Christmas then what are you celebrating?

Mary Jo Bahls
6 years ago

I live 10 miles from Wadena, have their phone number, get their weekly paper & work there. According to the newspaper article, NO ONE can remember when it began being displayed!!! SO, it was considerably more than 40 years ago. Very good article…Thank you for writing it! Merry Christmas to your hard-working staff!

Joseph Glaser
6 years ago
Reply to  Mary Jo Bahls

Obviously, the Creche was a beloved symbol, but then this out-of-towner comes along and demands removal. Sad to see, but all you have to do is DO NOT SERVE HIM. He will soon pack up and move.

Don Baugous
6 years ago

I believe we of Christian faith should stand up for our rights and not listen to the few squeaky wheels. It makes me all the more determined to have a nativity scene and more power to those who will stand up and display! Our country is founded with Christian beliefs and we should not back down. Don’t we have any courage?

Robert Point
6 years ago

I live in a small mountain valley in Wyoming . I have been to school Christmas programs for at least 35 years because my wife is a teacher in the elementary school in our valley. Last year a parent complained about the school’s Christmas program because Jesus was mentioned in a Christmas carol and there was a nativity at the end. There were 100 children who were participating in the program. This parent wanted the school to change the program and be tolerant of their beliefs yet they were not willing to be tolerant of 99 other children’s beliefs. The Anti Defamation League had also sent a letter to the district in early November. Administrators were concerned and the school attorney and the board decided that the play could be performed, but without angels and a nativity. Prior to this incident, the script had been sent to the Alliance Defending Freedom Organization. They gave the “go ahead” and informed the school that is was not in violation of the Establishment Clause. It is so sad to see people back down to a “just a few squeaky wheels” and not stand up for their beliefs and our country’s heritage. The Constitution does say anything about the separation between church and state. That came from a letter written by the Danbury Baptists to Thomas Jefferson because they did not want the government telling the church what to do.

6 years ago

We need to stop allowing the few to rule in our country. Since when does the minority rule the majority. We are one nation under God and whoever does not believe this way should not infringe on our rights.

6 years ago

It’s not hard to figure out who is actually behind the Anti-Christian movement. Just have to use the “gray” matter thinking and memory sections.
1. What “religion” had “OUR” CON-gress”min” pass laws protecting and criminalizing any criticism of it ??
If you can’t figure that out, to the rear of the classroom with you !!
2. What FOREIGN based GUILD/CULT enforces these ACTS called “laws” ??
HINT: Jesus placed a WOE, AKA, CURSE on them.
HINT: Their black robes are a throw back from the DRUID, a SATANIC CULT, days of England

3. In 1950 Congress investigated this Guild and determined it was Communist founded and run but did
nothing about it. Speaking of separation, the Separation of Powers Clause forbids members of this Guild from occupying offices in CON-gress but they do and also state legislatures, city councils ect.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x