"Hark!" those angels, your messengers sang long ago,
Lord God. "Hark!" Listen! Pay close attention! You are
speaking through them still. Your Word rings out.
"Glory!" We have gathered once again to listen, Lord -
to open our ears - our hearts and minds. Help us to hear. Forgive
our sin, that which gets in the way of listening and following. We
confess how quickly and easily we stray from you, like those sheep
protected by those shepherds out in that field. Shepherd us, O
Lord. Live in us through your Holy Spirit. Right now. We open the
door for your leadership. Welcome! This we pray in the name of the
one we call Jesus, our Christ, your Son. Amen.
Returning our Tithes and
Offerings (Micah 5:2-5a)
Listen to the prophet Micah:
you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of
Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in
Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. Therefore
he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has
brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the
people of Israel. And he shall stand and feed his flock in the
strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his
God. And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great to the
ends of the earth; and he shall be the one of peace."
silently the wondrous gift is given," we will sing of what
happened in that "little town of Bethlehem" long ago.
Letís respond now, with our tithes and offerings, to "the
blessings of the heavens" which God has given and continues
to give. Will the ushers come forward?
of Peace, our shepherd, enter in. We receive you. Receive now our
gifts. Help them be put to wise use in the work to which you have
called us in this "little town of" Long Green. Thank
you, Creator of heaven and earth, for caring about the smallest,
the least, the lost, and sending your Son for all the
"little" places and people. In his name we pray. Amen.
they are finished singing, "Shalom!" (the adult choir)
remains up front when the children are invited forward. They (the
choir) stand on the chancel (raised area between the pulpit &
lectern) with 13 letters, ready to lift them up and hold them,
when told, as if they were elementary age children. Leave a slight
space between the 6th and 7th persons in the
line, as well as the 9th and 10th.]
Did any of you have a Christmas Program at your school this
year? You did? I know some of you have school at home, so youíll
just have to imagine along with me as I tell you about a
"Winter Pageant" that took place at one school.
It wasnít just a "Christmas" program because some
children in that school didnít come from Christian families, and
schools need to include these children, too, donít they? Jewish
children, for instance, donít celebrate Christmas. What do they
celebrate? Hanukkah, thatís right. Children from Islamic
families are in the middle of a whole month of prayer and fasting
called Ramadan. Many African American children will soon be
celebrating what? Kwanza. Some children in this area come from
lands and religions which donít have a holiday right now, but
they do appreciate the coming of winter - which is why some
schools have "winter pageants" to include everybody.
Well, this particular school program was like that. In fact, it
didnít have much of anything from any religion in it. I guess
that was because they didnít want to make anybody mad. Well, it
was a very nice winter pageant. All sorts of children had a chance
to go on stage and sing for their parents songs of reindeer, Santa
Claus, snowflakes and good cheer.
Then it was time for the Kindergarten class to get up on stage.
The teacher said they were going to sing a song called
"Christmas Love." The whole class was there. Thirteen
children on the front, however, had pieces of paper hidden in
their hands (point to choir members, "fidgeting" up the
steps). On each paper was a letter, which they would hold up one
at a time, as the class sang the song. For instance, when they
sang "C is for Christmas" the first child held up what
letter? "C" Thatís right (1st person does).
Then, "H is for Happy." What letter? "H" Youíre
correct (2nd person does). Can you guess the next four
letters? "R," "I," "S," and
"T" (3rd through 6th hold up
The performance was going smoothly, until they got to the line
in the song which said "M is for Merry," as in Merry
Christmas. (7th person holds up the "M"
upside down) Is something wrong? Oh, youíre right. Itís upside
down. Everybody but that child saw it was upside down. Her/his
letter was no longer an "M," was it? What letter was it?
It was now a "W." Well, the audience, especially the
First through sixth graders, snickered at this little one's
mistake. But he/she had no idea they were laughing at her/him, so
he/she stood tall proudly holding her/his "W." Although
many teachers tried to shush the children, the laughter continued.
The song went on, and they lifted up the rest of the letters to
spell out the name of the song: "A," "S,"
"L," "O," "V," and "E." (8th
through 13th hold up theirs as the letter is spoken)
All of a sudden, something changed, and a hush came over the
audience and eyes began to widen. Can you guess why? The letters
no longer spelled out "Christmas Love." There was
another message. What was that message? Yes. "CHRIST WAS
Thatís why we are here today. God loved the world so much
that he gave us Jesus. And Jesus Christ was love. And, you know
what? He still is.
(Children and choir leave)