(There’s a gift for you at the end of this post!)
It’s that most wonderful time of the year again- decking the halls, earth receiving her King, and singing we now of Christmas. For those of us in ministry, it is another year of attempting to tell the familiar good news with fresh enthusiasm- easy because it’s such a treasured story, but- let’s be honest- it’s the same story we tell year after year, making it easy to fall into a stale pattern. This is not to say that God’s word is the obstacle- Scripture is alive and active always!- but in our humanity, we must take care not to let familiar words lose their everlasting impact.
The balance of tradition and newness is felt strongly in children’s ministry. Kids thrive on routine but also become bored easily , creating a tightrope we walk year-round. So when it comes to the annual Christmas program, each year heralds the challenge of “how do we do it THIS time? What haven’t we already done??”
At the beginning of December, I decided to take the matter to the masses and go direct to the source. I asked the kids what THEY thought we should do. And, wouldn’t you know, they were indecisive and hesitant to do anything, as my particular group is not fond of performances. But, we do know that everyone in our church family gets a turn to help lead and serve in some way, and that includes them, so onward we went. They didn’t want to sing until someone suggested “Frosty the Snowman!” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!” After a gentle reminder that worship centers on Christ, one of my wise-cracking fifth graders said, “Then just change the words!” Everybody laughed.
“We can’t do ‘Jesus the Snowman.’ It doesn’t work like that,” was my very mature, adult reply. And we moved on.
Later, I found myself humming Frosty and thought, “What IF we could change the words?” Immediately, my brain jumped to:
Jesus our Savior
Came to earth to save our souls
Mary’s baby boy
Filled the earth with joy
‘Cause He came to make us whole
Ok….. this might be something. What else might be playing on the holiday station of ye olde Bethlehem? Instead of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, the prophets could sing:
You better watch out
You better not sin
Remember our God in all you’re doin’
Messiah is coming to town
And then “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer had a very shiny nose” became “Jesus the Newborn baby tightly wrapped in swaddling clothes” and instead of ‘Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells” the angels sang “Do not fear, Do not fear” while “Oh Bethlehem” replaced “Oh Christmas Tree.” Suddenly, my wise-cracking fifth-grader had become an inspiring muse.
Fast-forward to our Christmas worship service, and we had a group of kids willing to sing and read this version of the familiar Nativity story. Glory to God! Joy to the world- or at least our congregation- indeed.
As my Christmas gift to you, I’d like to share our simple script! If a short, easy Christmas presentation would bless your church or school group, you are welcome to use it. We had guitar accompaniment, but acapella also works well with these familiar tunes. And don’t be afraid to let adults have fun, too. This material doesn’t have to be limited to children; it could make a great impromptu readers theater with adults as well during a holiday service or Bible study!
Click here for the script and enjoy: The Christmas Story Sounds Familiar script