TELLING THE CHRISTMAS STORY
Here's a traditional sequence for telling the Christmas story,
with suggested caroling breaks. Use this sequence (or develop your
own) for the "Shadow Montage" or the "Screen Shots" program.
Opening: "Go Tell It on the Mountain"
Scene 1: Mary and the Angel; Luke 1:26-38
Scene 2: Joseph and the Angel; Matthew 1:18-24
Narrator: Luke 2:1-7
Children sing "O Little Town of Bethlehem."
Scene 3: Shepherds, sheep, and one angel; Luke 2:8-12
Children sing "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks."
Scene 4: Shepherds and many angels; Luke 2:13-14
Children sing "Angels We Have Heard on High."
Scene 5: Shepherds and sheep; Luke 2:15-16
Children sing "O Come, All Ye Faithful."
Scene 6: Mary, Joseph, Shepherds, animals, and a manger with
baby Jesus; Luke 2:16-20
Children sing "Silent Night! Holy Night!" or "Away in a
Enlist the help of church members to share their stories of
Christmas in this low-prep intergenerational program for any size
About six weeks before your scheduled program, ask older church
members to tell you about Christmas memories that are important to
them. This can be especially effective if you have adults who grew
up in other parts of the world. As you hear the stories they'll
share, determine questions the children might ask to assist with
the flow of conversation. Some natural questions might include
"Where did you grow up? What did you do on Christmas Eve? What was
your favorite Christmas song to sing?"
With each story, link it with an appropriate carol. For example,
if one adult recalls how her family observed one hour of silence
between dinner and bedtime each Christmas Eve, use "Silent Night!
Holy Night!" with that story. Practice all the carols a few times
with the kids, and tell them which person will share the story
before each carol. Assign questions to specific children for each
You might also want to enlist the kids' help in making scenery
such as a roaring fire in the fireplace and cozy living room
furniture. Set up the scenery to reflect a comfortable space with a
rocking chair for the adult near center stage and enough places for
the kids to sit on the floor. Arrange the children around the
rocking chair so they're attending more to the storyteller than to
You may wish to assign stage movements for each scene, perhaps
having one child come to sit on a storyteller's lap or having the
kids who are going to ask the predetermined questions stand and
walk to the person. To help children maintain their stage presence,
you may also have them hold quiet toys, as though each one is
holding a Christmas present. If you typically use microphones in
your worship area, it's best to use a boom and to have someone move
the microphone to the people who are speaking.
At the end of each story and as the next storyteller approaches,
have the children sing the associated carol. You may wish to have
the congregation join in, or you may prefer to have the children
perform the music themselves. Because they're seated, it's
perfectly all right for them to have song sheets or projected
Close the Christmas program by having the whole congregation stand
and sing "Joy to the World!" together. Or consider closing with a
variation of the Iraqi tradition of passing the "touch of peace."
Have your children each go out to the congregation and touch one
person. Each of these people touches one other person until
everyone has felt the touch of this holiday blessing.
CHRISTMAS SCREEN SHOTS
This high-tech idea requires a lot of work to set up, but it
offers a virtually stress-free program day.
Instead of having the kids perform actions on the day of the
program, create a slide or Microsoft PowerPoint presentation of the
scenes of the Christmas story. It seems to work well to enact a
different scene each week for the six weeks preceding your program
(or even earlier). Plan to shoot a whole roll of film, and let
different groups of children don the costumes to enact each
If you'd like to involve even the youngest children, take
pictures of the babies in your nursery and show them while the kids
sing "Angels We Have Heard on High."
You can get really creative with photo editing software such as
Microsoft Picture It! 2001 or Adobe PhotoDeluxe Home Edition to
dress them as little angels. Or simply put a pair of wings and a
halo on each cooperative baby as you take the pictures.
During the program, have the kids sing as the show plays behind
them, but be sure to show it to them first to avoid a lot of turned