Christmas Eves Past
When our children were still at home we abandoned our home church and instead celebrated Christmas Eve in the nearby country church. They still had a children's program that night and I always loved setting the stage for the later gift opening activities by opening the biggest and best gift of Jesus' birth first.
As the rural church got smaller, their Christmas programs seemed to get more special, more intimate. One year the pre-service Christmas music was provided by families and extended families, groups of friends, and individuals. Group by group they would go to the front of the church to gather next to the piano and “do their thing.” I best remember a one finger Silent Night from a wee one. It was a pretty awe-some thing to watch "a parade" of families honoring Jesus birth in their own way. I would so enjoy doing something like this with my own granddaughter Sage.
Are you like me and remember your very first part in a Christmas Service? Mine was - “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” It has been decades since that event and I remember. That's a big deal that came out of a little thing - an individual recitation for a 5 year old little girl. It kind of puts a little perspective as we work with our Sunday School classes on their recitations. (Please don't be shy and add a comment if you also remember yours.)
I also remember being VERY disappointed that we kids only sang the verses and the choir got the “good part” – The G-l-o-r-i-a in Excelsis De-o.
These were the days before seatbelt laws and SUVs. Where we (4 kids and Mom and Dad) all climbed into the front of a single cab pickup and drove the 5 miles to church on questionable gravel roads as a blizzard bore down. I don't ever remember a service being cancelled but I do remember the cold -that pickup never did warm up!
Christmas Eves Future
That country church has sadly since closed and many other small churches face declining numbers of young children. But the children's Christmas services need to keep happening. I thought I would share a resource that has Christmas programs available that would work in small congregations. They are provided by Jesus Cares, an organization who exists to serve those with intellectually and developmental disabilities. I find them a top notch resource for the abled population as well. You will find the Christmas services they provide extremely engaging and tell the story in beautiful simplicity. If you are part of a small church or involved in a Christian preschool or small school it's well worth it to take a moment to look.
Use what talents you possess;
The woods would be very silent if no birds sang
Except those that sang best. by Henry Van Dyke
This quote was a Christmas gift given to me my first year of teaching in a Lutheran grade school. I loved it then. I love it now. I can lean towards the need of having things "just so" and doing is so much more important that doing perfectly. If I have one wish for me, one wish for you, it is the gift of encouragement to not be silent, but to speak God-Talk in whatever way God has blessed you, whatever place God has placed you.
A very merry and a very blessed Christmas to you and yours.