Christmas for the Whole Church

I get a lot of requests for Christmas programs that are intergenerational and focused on bringing the whole church together, while still being appropriate for kids to lead and participate in. One year, after searching for a while, I decided to write my own, and just see what happened.   We ended up having a very moving and memorable all-church experience around the story of God’s Love played out at Christmas. I’m sharing this in the hopes that it will help others experience the same thing this year at your church.

Because the original program included videos and music our church paid for, I am unable to share the full scripting here, although I can provide links to the music and videos for your own purchasing if desired. IF YOU USE THIS SCRIPT, PLEASE PURCHASE WHATEVER VIDEOS OR MUSIC YOU MIGHT DECIDE TO USE. The rest of the script, which I have written, is free for your use but please honor those who have copyrighted their materials for purchase.

The idea for this program came out of the idea of “Cardboard Testimonies” where people share their testimony in short phrases on a piece of cardboard. For instance, the first side might read “Lost in Sin” and the other side could read “Found in Love.”  As you read through the script, you’ll see how this is utilized to share the story of Christmas and, even more, the metanarrative of God’s ongoing story of Love and rescue for all of us!

Cardboard testimonies – A Christmas Celebration

  • Narrator 1, 2christmaschurch
  • Joseph – Doubter/Believer
  • Mary – Too Young/Chosen by God
  • Shepherds – Nobodies/God’s Somebodies (2)
  • Wise Men – Wise/Humble (3)
  • Scripture Reader
  • Children to sing

 MATERIALS NEEDED – Cardboard signs, both prepared as described and empty, and extra sharpies. Costumes can be used for children if the church desires.

Narrator 1  – It’s that time of year again. Can you feel it? (wrap arms around self) Can you smell it? (take a deep breath and then look over a plate of cookies) Mmmmm, can you taste it? (takes a small bite) This is one of my very favorite times of year. I love the sights, the sounds, and the stories that make it so special. But my favorite story is the one we as Christians celebrate as we light our tree, share our gifts and sing our songs. Of course, I am talking about the birth of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Narrator 2 – Like so many stories in the Bible, there is so much for us to learn from how God interacted with the people He used. Today, we want to look a little deeper at the story we all know and love and just see if we can catch of glimpse of Christmas here today.

Let’s start with Joseph, Jesus’ father here on earth

(Lights dim, spotlight on center stage, Joseph enters hold up large sign “Doubter.”

Joseph: I couldn’t believe it when I heard her say it. “I’m going to have a baby, God’s son, and he will save the world.” We weren’t married yet. I wasn’t ready to be a father. And she said she talked to angels. Doesn’t that sound crazy to you? But then, it happened. In a dream I talked to an angel too. I heard him say that everything Mary said was true. That I was going to be the father to God’s own Son. And in that moment my heart changed (flip the sign to other side “Believer”) and I became the first of many believers in my son, Jesus, the Messiah.

(Video – Joseph song: Music available to purchase at https://www.amazon.com/Josephs-Song/dp/B002CGLYD2 and video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BARVAg0gl6w&list=RDBARVAg0gl6w , Joseph leaves)

(Mary enters, holding up sign that reads “Too Young”)

Mary: Hi, my name is Mary. I’m still not used to getting up in front of people but I am learning. I’ll never forget the day the angel told me I was to be Jesus’ mother. Me? But, I was so young, really just a child. I was engaged to be married but not for a while and I couldn’t understand why God would choose me. But He did. Not because of my age or my abilities but because I was willing and I was available. (flip sign, other side reads “Chosen by God”). I was chosen and by His Love , I was blessed to be the mother of God’s only son.

(Song: Mary, Did You Know? Music available for purchase at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IB4DTFU/ref=dm_ws_tlw_trk9. We had two of our youth play the piano and sing for this part.  Mary exits)

(Two shepherds enter, carrying 1 big sign that says Nobodies. The two should be struggling, arguing a bit on how best to carry the sign before they get situated)

Shepherd #1 – Ahem, hello, sorry ‘bout that. Um, ahem, yeah… we are shepherds. (said definitively and then stop expectantly)

Shepherd #2, shaking his head – And…? Never mind, I’ll tell them. We are shepherds and around these parts we don’t get much, yah know, R-E-S-P-E-C-T because well, see, we don’t have a lot of schooling and mostly we’re just out in the field all day watching sheep.

Shepherd #1 – But that’s important!! Because if someone didn’t watch the sheep, they’d run off or get eaten and things!!

Shepherd #2 – Yeah, I know that, but lots of other folks just think we’re stinky and silly. BUT not God, oh no, not Him. He done sent us a whole slew of angels, singing and telling us that the Messiah had been born.

Shepherd #1 – That’s right. At first we were scared but then we was just excited. We was the first to know!! (they flip the sign, easily and not clumsily this time) and we were the very first ones to tell others that Jesus has been born.

Shepherd #2 – We may not speak the best or read real well, but God trusted us to announce the arrival of His Son. I say that makes us Somebody in His book! (they high five)

(Video: Skit Guys, First Christmas Shepherd available for purchase at http://skitguys.com/videos/item/first-christmas-shepherd)

(Wise men enter, stoically, the middle one holding a sign reading “Wise”)

Wiseman #1 – Good evening. It is our privilege and joy to share with you this evening the events that occurred upon our visit to Bethlehem around the arrival of the baby named Jesus of Nazareth.

Wiseman #2 – Our charts and graphs as well as our astrological studies had led us to the exact location of the child’s birth. We had brought with us valuable gifts to present to Him as our studies had revealed that he would indeed be a king, a king of kings to be exact.

Wiseman #3 – Imagine our surprise when all of our wisdom and charts and graphs and maps led us to a tiny cave behind an inn in the town of Bethelehem. (all kneel as the middle one flips the sign to reveal the word HUMBLE) We bowed before the king of the world on a dirt floor and dirty hay and never have we been so fulfilled in all our lives.

Scripture Reading  – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Jn. 1:1-5)

(At this time, all the kids will come out and sing “Here I am to Worship”, music available to purchase at http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtd.asp?ppn=MN0081209)

There are no spoken kid parts at this time but they will have stage presence as part of this section

Narrator 1: You see, there’s so much more to the story than just a manger and a birth. Lives were changed. People were transformed. Let’s take a look one more time at how these people so long ago were changed.

All characters go line up in the front platform, holding their broken signs facing out.

Narrator 2: See, each person needed God in some way. They all felt confused, insecure, insignificant, unworthy and self-sufficient. But the love of God transformed them (Actors flip signs) He changed their lives, their minds, and their hearts. He made them into believers and helped them understand they were chosen children of God. He made each of them “somebody” and gave them hearts of humility.

Actors exit right, lining up against the side wall of the sanctuary holding their “new” signs above their head to be seen by the congregation.

Narrator 1: Yes, these people long ago were transformed and the impact of our Savior’s birth continues to this day. Jesus’ love still has the power to change us, each one of us. The story continues even with us…

At this time, a few adult members of the congregation will come out one by one and in the spotlight with their “cardboard” testimony. If anyone is willing, you could give them time to share their testimony.

Narrator 2: Perhaps some of the rest of you have experienced this kind of love in your life. Perhaps you too have a story to share. (Preplanned volunteers line up on left side of church) If so we will invite you now to make your way to one of the three stations where blank signs and markers are available for you to make your own sign.

Narrator 1: While the music continues to play, make your way to the far side aisle and we will help you come one by one to the front to share your sign. You don’t need to talk, just share your sign with us. This may very well be the best Christmas card you could send. You may now go to the 3 stations at the back.

Music to play. We used “Oh How He Loves Us” by David Crowder. Preplanned volunteers will begin filing onto stage to show their sign. As congregants line up, prompter 2 will tell each one to go as the current testimonial is stepping down. There is no set time limit for this. It will depend on the size of your church and the move of the Holy Spirit. Our testimony time lasted about 10-15 minutes. The music played on a loop during that time. 

Pastor/Director: Maybe today, you didn’t have a sign to show or a card to write. That’s okay because the very best news of Christmas is that the story never ends. If today you felt a desire to allow God to re-write your story and you would like to pray with someone, we invite you after the service to make your way to the corner of the sanctuary at the cross where we have friends who would like to pray with you waiting.

Now, in the spirit of celebration, thanking God through Jesus Christ for His magnificent gift of love, let us come to the table set before us and share in communion with Christ and one another (Continue with communion liturgy).

Whole congregation sings: O Come all ye Faithful, Joy to the World (or music of your choice. We followed this Christmas program with a church-wide holiday dinner)


For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About the author

Family(40)Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com

Advertisements

Gifts Grandparents Give

My daughter’s 13th birthday is coming up…soon. Which means I’ll be the mom of a teenager (a fact worthy of its own blog post) but it also means I’m supposed to be planning an epic birthday party. The thing is, she already planned it. And what struck me as I read through her extensive, all-day, very detailed plan, was her request for dinner: Great-Grandma’s Spaghetti and Meatballs. 

There are a few things that have gotten passed through the generations and this particular recipe is one of them. My great-grandmother showed my grandmother how to make it and my grandmother showed my mother and they showed me and now I’ll pass it on to my kids. To me, it’s Grandma’s Spaghetti which is funny because to my grandmother it was Nonni’s Spaghetti (her mother-in-law). But one thing doesn’t change – the amazing, delicious, recipe that has to cook for two days and is hands-down the best spaghetti and meatballs on the planet.

cafe-845527_1920Psalm 145:4 tells of a different kind of thing getting passed from one generation to another. “One generation commends His works to another; they tell of His mighty acts.”  

Testimonies of faith, passed from one generation to the next, through stories, through conversation, through example.  

The thing about the recipe that my grandmother passed to me is that it took time. She couldn’t just write it down, because frankly, some of the steps included eyeballing spices in the palm of her hand or taste-testing at certain times to make sure the ingredients were blending.

It took a relationship. 

And when I make that particular dish, I can still hear her voice in my head telling me to “stir that gently or you’ll break up the meatballs” or to “cut that smaller; you don’t want a mouthful of garlic!” I can also hear her singing. I can remember stories she told me. I can feel her hugs. She passed a whole lot more than just a recipe to me. She passed on a lifetime of stories and of love. 

Generational discipleship is about more than just passing on testimonies of faith.

Yes, those things are the reason for the conversation. But in telling the stories, we are also passing on and receiving a lot more. Relationships are forged. Time is spent. Love is modeled. Laughter ensues. Hugs are given.

We both find out that we belong – we belong in the place of giving and we belong in the place of receiving.

We find out who we are as we pass on and receive the stories of hope and grace that have forged our identities.

A fellow seminarian was so curious about this “passing on” of the faith from one generation to another, especially from grandparents to grandchildren, that he is actually using this as the foundation of his Master’s thesis.  As we talked, I realized I wanted to be a part of finding out what this looks like. Why? Because I know how important my grandparents were in shaping me and I want grandparents and older generations to know just how much of an impact they have on children and youth.

If you’d like to be a part of this research, I invite you to read the information below sent by my friend Matthew Deprez. If you want to be a part of shaping the lives of the next generation, in addition to taking the survey, I invite you to build a relationship with a grandchild or other young person as you pass on your favorite recipe or show them the perfect golf stroke.

In other words, use what you have to pass on as a vessel to pass on a whole lot more. Forge relationships and mold identities by doing just as we’ve been commissioned, by commending His works to the next generation and telling of His mighty acts!

From my friend, Matthew Deprez
As part of a Capstone/Thesis project I am working on through Wesley Seminary, I am hoping to identify how grandparents shape the faith formation of their grandchildren. After a lengthy Literature Review that has taken over a year to complete, we are finally ready to begin our first wave of unique research that will be conducted through a brief study, which you can access here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/grandparentstudy.
I’ll be collecting these responses no later than August 25th and anticipate this survey only taking between 5 – 10 minutes to complete. As a way of saying thank you for your time, I will be randomly giving away a $50 Amazon gift card to an individual who completes the survey. (Details in the survey link).  
Thank you for your willingness to be part of this exciting study. My desire is to expand our understanding of the grandparent-grandchild relationship for the sake of future generation’s faith formation, and ultimately Kingdom-building that extends well beyond this academic project.

For more information about

Check out to ReFocus Ministry or “like” our Facebook page. Join our conversation at theReFocus Family and Intergen Ministry group on Facebook.

About the author

Family(40)Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family,  Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com