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.             refer to
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CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS – written by Tanis Harms
TOPIC:       good reminders of joy in Jesus
SCRIPTURE:   Luke 2:10-14; John 3:16; Hosea 14:4-7;
.            Psalm 150:1-5; John 10:11; Romans 6:23;
.            Ephesians 2:8-10; Psalm 149:1-4;
.            1 Timothy 1:15-17; Matthew 12:19-21
STYLE:       a Christmas program with scriptures,
.            narrations and optional scenes
.             (CHARACTERS help build and illustrate
.              a picture of Christmas traditions),
.            and songs (recommended to be sung either
.              by soloists, choir or congregational)

.            $15.00 USD to receive a DIRECTOR’S SCRIPT
.                                    (plus sheet music)
.            
how you receive this & package description


Cast:        NARRATOR  (you could have a different
.                       narrator for each segment))
.            READER    (could have readers for each verse)
.            FAMILY    (to enter picture first)
.            3 MAGI,SHEPHERDS, MARY, JOSEPH, ANGELS
Set:         you can build a “picture” of Christmas,
.            depending on how your stage is situated,
.            have a big picture frame in front of the scene,
.            or maybe 3 huge frames set up behind the scene
.            like a 3-way mirror...    ____
.              so everyone can see    /    \
.              the scene in a frame  /      \
.            you could also have a fake fireplace
.              for someplace to hang the stockings,
.              (or hang on a wire or on the tree,
.              but have something figured out to make it
.              easy, maybe have hooks on the stockings)
Props:       evergreen tree,
.            star tree-topper,
.            one ringing bell tree ornament,
.              (the rest [18-24] can be cutouts of bells)
.            candy canes (maybe 18-24 all together)
.            3 stockings to hang,
.            gifts,
.            music sheets
.            manger, stool (for Mary),
.            little table, advent wreath and candles

SCRIPT:                                                 1

SONG 1    “THE FIRST NOEL” (vs.1)

(NARRATOR/s & READER/s stand beside the frame/s or to the
far side of where the picture scene is going to happen.)

NAR.1     Christmas!  This is the time of year
.         when Christian families get together
.         to remember the birth of Jesus Christ.
.         It may not be the correct date, but
.         most churches have chosen December 25th.
.         And, Christmas traditions can vary
.         from culture to culture.  But people –
.         in general - love to celebrate.
.         Around 270 A.D., it was the Roman Emperor,
.         Aurelian, who called December 25th
.         "The Birthday of the Unconquered Sun",
.         and put it right in the middle of the feast
.         of Saturnalia.  This feast would last a week.
.         It was a time to have big dinners,
.         decorate halls with laurels and green trees,
.         carry candles through the streets,
.         and give gifts to one other.
.         While this was all going on,
.         the Christians would set aside time
.         to reflect on the life and acts of Jesus.
.         It was soon after this, when Constantine
.         made Christianity the religion of Rome,
.         that the Catholics converted these activities
.         into Christian traditions with new meanings
.         behind them.  For, according
.         to the announcement made by the angel
.         to the shepherds, we SHOULD have great joy
.         and give glory to God for sending His Son.

READ.1    (Luke 2:10-14)  “But the angel said to them,
.         ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news
.         that will cause great joy for all the people.
.         Today in the town of David
.         a Savior has been born to you;
.         He is the Messiah, the Lord.
.         This will be a sign to you:
.         You will find a baby wrapped in cloths
.         and lying in a manger.’  Suddenly
.         a great company of the heavenly host
.         appeared with the angel, praising God
.         and saying,  ‘Glory to God
.         in the highest heaven, and on earth –
.         peace to those – on whom His favor rests.’”
.                                                       3
(During the song, FAMILY enters the picture scene
and mimes conversation and warm fellowship.)

SONG 2    “THE BIRTHDAY OF A KING” (vs.1,2)

(FAMILY freezes in a family portrait photo pose.)

NAR.2     The Christmas tree.  People from all walks
.         of life, appreciate flowers and trees,
.         and have always looked for different ways
.         to bring nature - inside.  In the midst
.         of winter, even the early Egyptians,
.         would bring green palms into their homes.
.         This, to them symbolized
.         life's triumph over death.  
.         In the middle ages, the Romans
.         would put on plays.  And when they would
.         act out the fall of Adam and Eve,
.         on the set, they would use an evergreen
.         as the Paradise Tree;
.         which represented man's fall,
.         as well as the promise of salvation.
.         The first known Christmas tree
.         was put up in the 16th century,
.         in Strasbourg, Germany.  In the 1830s,
.         German settlers brought this idea with them
.         to Pennsylvania.  And, in 1842, Prince Albert
.         popularized this tradition in England
.         when he put up a tree in Windsor Castle
.         for his wife, Queen Victoria.  There are many
.         legends and stories about the Christmas tree.
.         But simply put, the secular symbol is one
.         of endurance, or a sign of nature’s beauty;
.         and for the Christians, it has always
.         represented - eternal life.

READ.2    (John 3:16)  “For God so loved the world
.         that He gave His one and only Son,
.         that whoever believes in Him shall not perish
.         but have eternal life.”

(During the song, FAMILY brings in a Christmas tree,
and fusses to set it up correctly.)

SONG 3    “O CHRISTMAS TREE, O CHRISTMAS TREE” (vs.1,2)

(FAMILY freezes to make interesting ‘Norman Rockwell’
type picture scene.)

NAR.3      Decorating the tree.  Early Christians       5
.          held the belief that certain trees
.          flowered during the winter – as nature’s way
.          of honoring Jesus’ birth.  As soon as there
.          were Christmas trees, there were decorations.
.          And the first known decorations were things
.          of nature, like flowers and fruit.
.          For a while, this practice was condemned
.          by religious leaders, but it slowly spread
.          from Germany up into the Nordic countries,
.          finally becoming fully acceptable when
.          Queen Victoria and Prince Albert displayed
.          their fully decorated tree in England.
.          We must realize that God Himself, the Creator,
.          adorned nature with beauty, and only told us
.          that beauty should not MERELY be external,
.          but that internal beauty is most important,
.          and is enhanced with the love
.          and salvation of Jesus Christ.

READ.3     (Hosea 14:4-7)  “I will heal their waywardness
.          and love them freely,  for my anger has turned
.          away from them.  I will be like the dew
.          to Israel;  he will blossom like a lily.
.          Like a cedar of Lebanon he will send down
.          his roots;  his young shoots will grow.
.          His splendor will be like an olive tree,
.          his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
.          People will dwell again in his shade;
.          they will flourish like the grain,
.          they will blossom like the vine...“

(FAMILY makes a big deal about pulling out the star
tree-topper, and putting it on top of the tree.)

SONG 4     “O SING A SONG OF BETHLEHEM” (vs.1,2)

(FAMILY freezes.)

NAR.4     Bells ringing!  Even though some people,
.         long ago, believed that they could use bells
.         to frighten away evil spirits – bells are
.         simply a form of noisemaking.  They were easy
.         to make, easy to carry, and easy to use.
.         When there is something happy to celebrate,
.         people like to make noise.  Years ago,
.         most villages had churches with bell towers.
.         These bells would ring out when there was
.         something important to announce: like the
.         start of church – a wedding - or Christmas Day.
.                                                       6
READ.4    (Psalm 150:1-5)  Praise the LORD!...
.         Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet,
.         praise Him with the harp and lyre,
.         praise Him with timbrel and dancing,
.         praise Him with the strings and pipe,
.         praise Him with the clash of cymbals,
.         praise Him with resounding cymbals.

(FAMILY takes out one bell ornament and rings it,
which begins the song, then during the song they continue
to hang bells on the tree that do not make any sound.)

SONG 5    “I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY” (vs.1,4,5)

(FAMILY freezes.)

NAR.5     Candy canes.  This tradition is based on
.         a legend, which may or may not be true.
.         Around 1770, at the Cologne Cathedral
.         in Germany, there was a certain choirmaster
.         who thought of a way to help
.         keep the children quiet
.         during the long Nativity ceremony.
.         He could not give them chocolate,
.         because this would be seen as sacrilegious,
.         so he had a sugar stick made
.         into the shape of a shepherd’s cane – to remind
.         the children of the shepherds at Jesus' birth.
.         It was after 1847, that
.         a German-Swedish immigrant in Ohio
.         started the tradition of putting
.         candy canes on his Christmas tree.
.         A few years later, someone else added
.         the peppermint flavor, as well as the
.         red stripes.  Some say that the white
.         represents the purity of Jesus Christ and
.         the red represents the wounds that He suffered.
.         No matter how it began, it is a sweet thought.

READ.5    (John 10:11)  Jesus said,
.         “I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd
.         lays down his life for the sheep.”

(FAMILY hangs candy canes on the tree.)

SONG 6    “ANGELS WE HAVE HEARD ON HIGH” (vs.1,2)

(FAMILY freezes.)

NAR.6       Christmas stockings.  This is actually       6
.          one of the oldest Christmas traditions.
.          It stems from a Christian man named Nicholas,
.          who was a Bishop to the city of Myra, Turkey,
.          17 centuries ago.  He was loved by everyone,
.          especially the children, and was known to be
.          very selfless and giving.  He came from
.          a wealthy family, but had a great heart
.          for the poor.  On Christmas Eve, he would
.          go house to house, secretly giving everyone
.          a gift.  Noticing that people had left
.          their laundry out to dry, he would put some
.          of the gifts into the woolen stockings
.          still hanging on the clotheslines.  Even now,
.          giving gifts is symbolic of the gifts given
.          to Jesus at His birth, and of the fact
.          that Jesus Himself was a gift to the world.

READ.6     (Romans 6:23)  “For the wages of sin is death,
.          but the gift of God is eternal life
.          in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

(FAMILY hangs up stockings.)

SONG 7     “HOW GREAT OUR JOY!”  (vs.2,4)

(FAMILY freezes.)

NAR.7     Gift giving.  This holiday tradition began
.         long before Christmas.  The Romans gave gifts
.         to each other at festivals such as Saturnalia,
.         the winter solstice, and the Roman New Year.
.         But when gift giving became associated with
.         Christmas, it was equated with the Wise Men’s
.         offerings to Jesus.  The Bible does not specify
.         how many wise men went to honor Jesus.  We only
.         assume that there were three - because of the
.         gifts mentioned:  gold, frankincense and myrrh.
.         What we do know is that these items are very
.         expensive, which only reminds us that the gift
.         of salvation – is priceless.  The best and only
.         gift that we can give God – is ourselves.

READ.7   (Ephesians 2:8-10)  “For by grace you have been
.        saved through faith; and that not of yourselves,
.        it is the gift of God; not as a result of works,
.        so that no one may boast.  For we are
.        His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus
.        for good works, which God prepared beforehand
.        so that we would walk in them.”
.                                                        7
(FAMILY puts gifts under the tree.  As they do, they
shake some to maybe figure out what they might be.)

SONG 8   “AS WITH GLADNESS MEN OF OLD” (vs.3)

(FAMILY freezes.)

NAR.8     The singing of carols.
.         The styles may have changed slightly
.         over the centuries,
.         but the church has always sung hymns.
.         It was in the thirteenth century,
.         in France, Germany, and Italy,
.         with the influence of Francis of Asissi,
.         that a tradition of popular
.         Christmas songs developed.
.         In 1426, English Christmas carols
.         appeared, thanks to songwriter
.         John Awdlay, a Shropshire chaplain.
.         These were probably sung
.         by groups of 'wassailers',
.         who went from house to house.
.         After the Reformation era,
.         carols became more popular
.         with the spread of Protestant churches.
.         Such people as Martin Luther
.         wrote a few carols
.         and encouraged their use in church.

READ.8    (Psalm 149:1-4)  “Praise the LORD!
.         Sing to the LORD a new song,
.         And His praise
.         in the congregation of the godly ones.
.         Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
.         Let the sons of Zion
.         rejoice in their King.
.         Let them praise His name with dancing;
.         Let them sing praises to Him
.         with timbrel and lyre.
.         For the LORD takes pleasure
.         in His people;  He will beautify
.         the afflicted ones with salvation.”

(FAMILY pulls out music sheets to sing.)

SONG 9    “JOY TO THE WORLD” (vs.1,2)

(FAMILY freezes.)

NAR.9     The nativity scene.  In 1223,                 8
.         St. Francis of Assisi visited the town
.         of Grecio to celebrate Christmas.
.         He realized that their chapel
.         was too small to hold the entire congregation
.         for Midnight Mass, so he found a hillside
.         near the town square and set up the altar.
.         As well, he had an idea
.         to make this experience exciting
.         enough to interest the townspeople,
.         but solemn enough to placate
.         the church authorities.  Preparing a manger
.         and buying some hay, an ox and donkey,
.         St. Francis created a live nativity scene.
.         Then standing beside the manger,
.         he recited psalms of praise,
.         and preached the Christmas message.
.         Recreating nativity scenes,
.         or having decorative nativity scenes at home,
.         serve as a visible reminder
.         of the details of our Savior’s birth.
.         The purpose of Jesus coming
.         to die for our sins by humbly –
.         hanging on the wooden cross –
.         all began with Jesus humbly
.         leaving His heavenly throne –
.         and coming to earth -
.         to the humble beginnings of the wooden manger.

READ.9    (1 Timothy 1:15-17)
.         “It is a trustworthy statement,
.         deserving full acceptance,
.         that Christ Jesus came into the world
.         to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
.         Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that
.         in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ
.         might demonstrate His perfect patience as
.         an example for those who would believe in Him
.         for eternal life.  Now to the King eternal,
.         immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor
.         and glory forever and ever. Amen.

(FAMILY stands aside as
the NATIVITY SCENE is created around them,
and they subtly become a part of it.)

SONG 10   “THOU DIDST LEAVE THY THRONE” (vs.1)

(NATIVITY SCENE freezes.)

NAR.10    The Advent wreath and candles.  The origins     9
.         of this tradition is uncertain, but
.         it has always had the significance of hope.
.         By the Middle Ages, Christians were using
.         this tradition as part of their spiritual
.         preparation for Christmas.  The progressive
.         lighting of the candles each week symbolizes
.         the expectation and hope surrounding
.         our Lord’s first coming into the world
.         and the anticipation of His second coming
.         to judge the living and the dead.
.         The white candle at the center represents
.         Christ.  This is lit on Christmas Eve
.         to remind us that Jesus is the light
.         of the world.  As we have this hope in Christ,
.         may we also be a light to this world –
.         to spread this good news of great joy.

READ.10   (John 8:12)  “Then Jesus again spoke to them,
.         saying, ‘I am the Light of the world;
.         he who follows Me will not walk in the
.         darkness, but will have the Light of life.”

(FAMILY can set up an advent wreath and candles
on the small side table, then light it during the song.)

SONG 11   “THE ADVENT OF OUR GOD” (vs.1-2)

INSERT:  short message from Pastor, then the
.        lighting of the candles and passing of the light
.        usually done while singing “Silent Night”