Janna Thompson kneels beside the Nativity scene set up in the lobby of The Journey at First Baptist Church. Thompson wrote and directed the Christmas play, “We Three Nails,” which follows three modern children as they witness events in the life of Jesus Christ.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

Janna Thompson kneels beside the Nativity scene set up in the lobby of The Journey at First Baptist Church. Thompson wrote and directed the Christmas play, “We Three Nails,” which follows three modern children as they witness events in the life of Jesus Christ.

Craig teen writes, directs church Christmas play

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Janna Thompson displays the gift-themed exhibit and message in the lobby of The Journey at First Baptist Church. Thompson said the moral of her Christmas play, “We Three Nails,” which she wrote and directed, has a similar meaning in its display of God’s greatest gift.

If you go …

What: “We Three Nails,” a Christmas play

When: 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: The Journey at First Baptist Church, 1150 W. Ninth St.

— The play was written and is directed by Moffat County High School graduate Janna Thompson. It tells the story of modern children who travel back in time to witness the birth of Jesus Christ and other events in His life. The show is free and open to the public.

Grace.

The word is an important part of any Christian church, and it’s an element of faith Janna Thompson wants people to associate with the holiday season.

“It’s the greatest gift, better than any Christmas present,” Thompson said.

But, rather than telling people about the importance of God’s grace, she’ll be showing them.

Thompson is the writer and director of “We Three Nails,” a Christmas play set to debut at 6 p.m. Sunday at The Journey at First Baptist Church, 1150 W. Ninth St.

The title refers to a familiar carol, “We Three Kings,” but Thompson claims the story will be distinct from what people might expect from a traditional Christmas story.

“It’s a little different than ‘Away in a Manger’ and then we all clap,” she said.

The three main characters are modern-day youths who are each struggling to believe in something.

“They have some pretty big issues. One’s got issues with her beauty, one with her body, one because he lost his brother at an early age,” Thompson said. “It tries to answer that question, ‘If God’s real, why do bad things happen?’”

The youth travel back in time to witness the Nativity. But, their experiences lead them to other parts of the life of Jesus Christ, leading up to His crucifixion.

“People think that grace was given (by God) when Jesus was born, but I don’t think so, I think it was when he died,” she said. “The manger points to the cross. He didn’t come to be a cute baby. I think grace is the most prevalent idea because it’s something good you don’t deserve. Grace was given when those nails were put into Him.

“It’s significant because there are three of them and there were three nails that pierced Christ.”

Thompson said she was approached in the summer to helm the production by church members and mother-daughter team Mary and Amy Tague.

“They’ve done it for years, and Mary wanted a break, and she knew it was kind of my thing,” she said. “Amy’s done all the choreography. She’s really been a rock. She’s done all the music and promotion stuff. We’re doing sign language for songs, it’s mostly Christmas music and some modern Christian songs.”

Thompson credited Mary’s youngest daughter, Alyssa, with coming up with the initial premise.

“She actually wrote the first page about kids going back in time, and I decided to kind of weight it with God a little bit more,” she said.

The script was ready in mid-August and rehearsals began in October. Thompson’s cast is comprised of children from first grade to high school freshmen.

“They’ve all done a really good job, acting, singing, I’m very proud of them,” she said. “The script itself I made very modern. It’s very comical. It’s weighted deep but with comic relief. If they have questions, we’ll sit down and talk about it.”

Thompson said the overall moral she wants people to take away is the reality of Jesus’s time on Earth.

“Whether or not you believe in him is your own thing, but I think denying that he wasn’t here is kind of ignorant because there’s a lot of proof that the man existed,” she said. “I’ve heard the single greatest cause of atheism is because people think God has no mercy. I’ve tried to relate it to the town and people I know who are struggling. I hope I hit people with the message that grace is real.”

Grace has been a big part of Thompson’s life lately.

Last year, the 19-year-old thespian’s father, Gary, was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a plasma cell cancer that has since gone into remission.

Thompson temporarily put her life on hold after graduating from Moffat County High School in spring 2010 to help her family.

“He’s doing much better now,” she said.

Participating on the speech and debate team and working with school shows like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Alice in Wonderland” has given her the ambition to pursue a career in acting and direction. She has also written numerous works that she hopes to get published, including a novel.

Thompson said getting in-

volved in theater on the local level has helped prepare her for future endeavors.

“All the actors and directors I like, they say it’s not about the money, it’s about doing things in your churches and your community,” she said. “That’s how you know you love it.”

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