Thursday, December 20, 2007

A Christmas Reading

When our children were young, Christmas gatherings at Hubby's folks' always included a re-enactment of the Christmas story. All the grandkids went upstairs in Granny's house and found dress-up costumes and props, and put together a little pageant for the grownups. Over the years everybody pretty much got to play every part eventually, and it was fun for everyone.

But then the grandkids grew up. Gradually, we lost actors as they got older and felt self-conscious and "too old." Now the youngest is 10 and the oldest is 25. So one year I put together a "reading" of the Christmas story that was divided up into "parts" and included group singing. Now everyone, even the adults, can participate, and we still have the Christmas story included in our gathering.

I made several copies of this and handed it around, and everyone read aloud around the circle, each person reading the next paragraph. (The italics help differentiate the "parts." The blue print indicated songs.) It actually turned out very well, sounding like narration and speaking parts interspersed with audience participation. GuitarGeek played his guitar for us to sing along with.

The Story of Christmas

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was like this; for after his mother, Mary, was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, intended to put her away secretly. But when he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying,

“Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take to yourself Mary, your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She shall bring forth a son. You shall call his name Jesus, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins.”

Now all this happened, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying,

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son.
They shall call his name Immanuel;” --which means, “God with us.”

Emmanuel, Emmanuel
His name is called Emmanuel
God with us, revealed in us
His name is called Emmanuel

Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took his wife to himself; but she remained a virgin until she had brought forth her firstborn son. And Joseph named him Jesus.

At that time the Emperor Augustus ordered a census of the Roman Empire. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All the people went to register in the cities where their forefathers had lived.

So Joseph went from Nazareth, a city in Galilee, to a city called Bethlehem, in Judea. Joseph, a descendant of King David, went to Bethlehem because David had been born there. He went there to register with Mary, who had been promised to him in marriage and was pregnant.

While they were in Bethlehem, the time came for Mary to have her child; so she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn.

Silent Night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright round yon virgin mother and child
Holy infant so tender and mild, sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

In the fields near Bethlehem there were shepherds taking turns watching their flock during the night. And look! an angel from the Lord suddenly appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone all around them, and they were terrified. The angel said to them,

"Don't be afraid! I have good news for you, a message that will fill everyone with joy. Today your Savior, Christ the Lord, was born in David's city. And this is how you will recognize him: You will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."

Suddenly, a multitude of angels appeared with the angel. They were praising God by saying,

"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth, peace and good will toward men!"

Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her king
Let every heart prepare him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

Then the angels left them and went back to heaven, and the shepherds said to each other,

"Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby, who was lying in a manger. When they saw it, they publicized widely the saying which was spoken to them about this child. All who heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told them.


Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying,

“Where is he who is born King of the Jews? For we saw his star in the east, and have come to worship him.”

When Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he asked them where the Christ would be born. They said to him,

“In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written through the prophet,
‘You Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are in no way least among the princes of Judah:
For out of you shall come forth a governor,
Who shall shepherd my people, Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called the wise men, and learned from them exactly what time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, and said,

“Go and search diligently for the young child. When you have found him, bring me word, so that I also may come and worship him.”

They, having heard the king, went their way; and behold, the star, which they saw in the east, went ahead them, until it came and stopped over the place where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. They came into the house and saw the young child with Mary, his mother, and they fell down before him and worshiped him. Opening their treasures, they offered to him gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem
Come and behold him, born the king of angels

O come let us adore him
O come let us adore him
O come let us adore him
Christ the Lord

But when it was time to leave, they went home another way, because God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. After the wise men were gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying,

“Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and stay there until I tell you, for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.”

He arose and took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

When Herod was dead, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and told him,

"Get up and take the child and his mother back to the land of Israel, because those who were trying to kill the child are dead."

So Joseph returned immediately to Israel with Jesus and his mother, to their home in Nazareth in Galilee. There the child grew and became strong in spirit and filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon him.

Merry Christmas

1 comment:

carrie said...

That is AWESOME! What a great tradition!!!