Sunday, December 20, 2009

Children's Ministry: Christmas 2009

one very cute little donkey

With Christmas fast approaching, I asked our Sunday School teachers to come up with ideas for a program that the children could present on Sunday, December 20. Together we brainstormed and eventually decided to tweak a "live nativity" program that I ran across online. Basically it included narration of the Christmas story; singing of familiar Christmas carols; and movement of the children dressed as the main characters in the Biblical story of Jesus' birth. Overall, it seemed like a simple idea.

The first hiccup, however, was realizing that the Christmas carols I assumed would be familiar to the children were not familiar to them at all! Sunday after Sunday, during the preaching time, the children faithfully practiced and learned songs such as Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Little Town of Bethlehem, etc. Their favorite by far was Angels We Have Heard on High and soon they were belting it out on the chorus!

Parts were assigned but the one problem we faced was when and where to practice the movement of the children (we were meeting in the living room of the pastor's home to sing, and it was standing room only.) Two Saturday practices were scheduled just before the program, with a third Saturday set aside for set preparation. In the midst of the chaos, many helping hands leaped into action. One family took upon themselves the preparation of the stable and eight pairs of handmade angels' wings. Our church seamstress offered to take on the enormous task of creating outfits for sheep, shepherds, wise men, angels, donkeys, Mary and Joseph. Everything seemed to be coming together.

The second hiccup occurred on the first Saturday practice, when less than half of the cast showed up to practice. Needless to say, we were a bit concerned! We breathed a sigh of relief when the following Saturday (the day before the presentation) our entire group appeared, most of them on time. It was to be a dress rehearsal, but then we experienced our third hiccup - half of the costumes were not ready! It was through no fault of our seamstress, who had been working non-stop but was simply overwhelmed by the number of costumes needed (twenty-two in one week's time!)

But the show must go on, so we practiced without costumes (and with a great deal of craziness.) I know they say the final practice before the show needs to be rocky in order for the performance to be stellar, but I must admit to being a bit concerned! Somehow it all came together, with one lady volunteering to sew a few of the final costumes and our dear seamstress working until 4 a.m. to finish the final donkey. The kids who yesterday had been squirrely and not focused, today seemed to gather strength from the costumes and the crowd and did a fantastic job with their songs.

I am so thankful for a great church and the many people who helped make this program happen. I'm proud of the great job the kids did and I hope they are proud of their excellent effort. Most importantly, we were able to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas and I know there were unsaved friends and family members who heard the gospel message this morning. Pray that the seeds planted will bear fruit during this Christmas season, and far beyond!

Getting ready for the big event:

The program begins:

And here's one special duet by two special girls:

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