A long time ago, when I was much younger, I was often put in charge of things, like Relief Society Christmas Programs.
It was fun.
It’s been a long time since anyone has trusted me with running a program at church. I think they are scared of me. Or maybe they have asked me, and I don’t remember.
Anyway, I thought I would post one of my old little scripts here in the event that anyone has to come up with something this year for a program. It was a big success, and because of the way I wrote it, required NO REHEARSAL time. People just showed up and did their part and it went off without a hitch. Total prep time for us all to get together? 15 minutes before the program started.
Easy and no stress. Just the way it should be. That way, one can still feel the Christmas spirit during the program, instead of the spirit of crazed-overstressed-women that sometimes creeps in at this time of year.
I called it “Christmas Angels” and we used this quote for the invitations and posters and such:
We are, each of us, angels with only one wing, and we fly by embracing each other.”
So, without further ado…my Christmas program from years gone by. I love Wallace Purling!
[Stage is set with a rocker, table with a large book on it and a Christmas tree. On one side of the stage is the Reader, sitting in a chair, the reader's script can be in the book, so it doesn't need to be memorized. We had the audience be the "singers" with the exception of the Silent Night at the end, in which we had soloists who sang in French and German.]
Reader: The entire Christian world now moves into the happiest season of the year. There is a magic in Christmas. Hearts are opened to a new measure of kindness. Love speaks with increased power. Tensions are eased. The generous instincts that lie within all of us are given added expression.
While there are those for whom Christmas is difficult-those who have lost loved ones and for whom there is now a poignant loneliness, who may wonder at the need for Christmas-even to these, there comes the assurance of future glad reunions made possible only because of the sacrifice of the Son of God, whose birth we commemorate at this season. (Thomas S. Monson)
[At this point, there is a chorister who will conduct the audience singing the carols]
Singers: Joy To The World (1st and Last Verse)
Reader: One of the most beautiful things to read in the Christmas story is the account of the angels who came to visit the shepherds and share the “glad tidings of great joy.” Even now, 2000 years later, all over the world there are evidences of angels in our midst. People whose kindness and sacrifice offer “glad tidings of great joy” to those in need.
“May I now paint a picture of such a situation. In faraway Bucharest, Romania, Dr. Lynn Oborn, volunteering at an orphanage, was attempting to teach little Raymond, who had never walked, how to use his legs. Raymond had been born with severe clubfeet and was completely blind. Recent orthopedic surgery performed by Dr. Oborn had corrected the clubfeet, but Raymond was still unable to use his legs. Dr. Oborn knew that a child-size walker would enable Raymond to get on his feet, but such a walker was not available anywhere in Romania.
Let us turn now to the United States. The Headlee family joined with others to assemble a 40-foot container filled with 40,000 pounds of needed supplies, including food, clothing, medicine, blankets, and toys. The project deadline arrived, and the container had to be shipped that day.
No one involved with the project knew of the particular need for a child-size walker. However, at the last possible moment, a family brought forth a child’s walker and placed it in the container. [Kristin, a young girl with spina bifida, who no longer could use it and was confined to a wheelchair, had felt impressed to give her walker to the cause, hoping that some child in Romania would be benefited.]
When the anxiously awaited container arrived at the orphanage in Bucharest, Dr. Oborn was present as it was opened. Every item it contained would be put to immediate use at the orphanage. As the Headlee family introduced themselves to Dr. Oborn, he said, “Oh, I hope you brought me a child’s walker for Raymond!”
One of the Headlee family members responded, “I can vaguely remember something like a walker, but I don’t know its size.” Another family member was dispatched back into the container, crawling among all the bales of clothes and boxes of food, searching for the walker. When he found it, he lifted it up and cried out, “It’s a little one!” Cheers erupted—which quickly turned to tears, for they all knew they had been part of a modern-day miracle. An “angel” had helped Raymond to walk.
[At "an angel" the pianist starts playing It Came Upon A Midnight Clear"]
“Peace on earth, good will to men; from heaven’s all gracious King—the world in solemn stillness lay to hear the angels sing.”
Singers: It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (1st verse)
Reader: Now, let us travel to the Phillipines, where, in the steamy jungle heat of a refugee camp, two service missionaries celebrated Christmas by going through the camp, singing Christmas carols.
As they passed each tent, more and more voices joined in until the camp was filled with not only the singing of the coming of the Savior, but His Spirit, lifting all there beyond the misery of their situation to the lofty heights of heaven. “O Come, all ye faithful” those angel missionaries sang, “Come, and in whatever way you can, adore Him—adore Him whose heart can understand and heal all suffering, Him who can bring you peace. ”
Singers: O Come, All Ye Faithful (Verses one and three)
[A woman walks onstage and sits in the rocker, and picks an envelope off the tree. If a tree is not available, the woman could pick it up off the side table. ]
Woman 1: It’s just a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our Christmas tree.
No name, no identification, no inscription. It has peeked through the branches for the past 10 years or so.
It all began because my husband Mike hated Christmas. Oh, not the true meaning of Christmas, but the commercial aspects of it. Knowing he felt this way, I decided to reach for something special just for Mike. The inspiration came in an unusual way.
Our son was wrestling at the school he attended. Shortly before Christmas, there was a non-league match against a team sponsored by an inner city church. These youngsters, dressed in sneakers so ragged that shoestrings seemed to be the only thing holding them together, presented a sharp contrast to our boys in their blue and gold uniforms and sparkling new wrestling shoes. [Not only that, they were wrestling without head gear, a kind of light helmet designed to protect a wrestler's ears.] We ended up walloping them.
Mike, seated beside me, shook his head sadly, “I wish just one of them could have won,” he said. That’s when the idea for his present came.
That afternoon, I went to a local sporting goods store and bought an assortment of wrestling headgear and shoes and sent them anonymously to the inner city church. On Christmas Eve, I placed the envelope on the tree, the note inside telling Mike what I had done and that this was his gift from me.
In succeeding years, each Christmas, I followed the tradition. The envelope became the highlight of our Christmas. It was always the last thing opened on Christmas morning and our children, ignoring their new toys, would stand with wide-eyed anticipation as their dad lifted the envelope from the tree to reveal its contents.
[Last year, we lost Mike after a long fight with cancer.] When Christmas rolled around, I was still so wrapped in grief that I barely got the tree up. Yet Christmas Eve found me placing an envelope on the tree, and in the morning, it was joined by three more. Each of our children, unbeknownst to the others, had placed an envelope on the tree for their dad. And so it will continue throughout the years, and Mike’s spirit will be reflected in the fathers, grandfathers, and great-grandfathers all opening their envelopes on Christmas morning.
Reader: “Light and life to all he brings, ris’n with healing in his wings. Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. . .”
Singers: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!
[During the song, Woman 1 exits the stage and Man 1 enters]
Reader: Angels can come in any shape and size, and can show up in the most unusual places.
Man 1: For years now whenever Christmas pageants are talked about in a certain little Midwestern town, someone is sure to mention the name of Wallace Purling. Wally’s performance in one annual production of the nativity play has slipped into the realm of legend.
Wally was nine that year and in the second grade, though he should have been in the fourth. Most people in town knew he had difficulty in keeping up. He was big and clumsy, slow in movement and mind. Still, Wally was well-liked by the other children in his class.
Wally fancied the idea of being a shepherd with a flute in the Christmas pageant that year, but the play’s director, Miss Lambard, assigned him to a more important role. After all, she reasoned, the innkeeper did not have too many lines, and Wally’s size would make his refusal of lodging to Joseph more forceful.
So it happened that the usual large audience gathered to the town’s yearly play. No one on stage or off was more caught up in the magic of the night than Wallace Purling.
Then came the time when Joseph appeared, slowly, tenderly guiding Mary to the door of the inn. Joseph knocked hard on the wooden door set into the painted backdrop. Wally the innkeeper was there, waiting.
“What do you want?” Wally said, swinging the door open with a brusque gesture.”
“We seek lodging.”
“Seek it elsewhere.” Wally looked straight ahead but spoke vigorously. “The inn is filled.”
“Sir, we have asked everywhere in vain. We have traveled far and are very weary.”
“There is no room in this inn for you.” Wally looked properly stern.
“Please, good innkeeper, this is my wife, Mary. She is heavy with child and needs a place to rest. Surely you must have some small corner for her. She is so tired.”
Now for the first time, the innkeeper relaxed his stiff stance and looked down at Mary. With that, there was a long pause, long enough to make the audience a bit tense with embarrassment.
“No! Begone!” the prompter whispered from the wings.
“No!” Wally repeated automatically. “Begone!”
Joseph sadly placed his arm around Mary, and Mary laid her head upon her husband’s shoulder, and the two of them started to move away. The innkeeper did not return inside the inn, however. Wally stood there in the doorway watching the forlorn couple. His mouth was open, his brow creased with concern, his eyes filling unmistakable with tears.
And suddenly this Christmas pageant became different from all others.
“Don’t go, Joseph,” Wally called out. “Bring Mary back.” And Wallace Purling’s face grew into a bright smile. “You can have my room.”
Reader: “How silently, how silently the wond’rous gift is giv’n; So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heav’n…where meek hearts will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
Singers: O Little Town of Bethlehem (Verses 1 and 3)
[Man 1 exits and Woman 2 enters]
Reader: We go now to a place that had never heard nor seen anything of the Christmas story. The year is 1994, and two Americans had answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics based on biblical principles in the public schools. They were invited to teach a large orphanage. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government-run program were in the orphanage.
Woman 2: It was nearing the holiday season, time for our orphans to hear for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. Finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable, where the baby Jesus was born and placed in a manger. Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city.
Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-out nightgown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby’s blanket. A doll-like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought from the United States. The orphans were busy assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help.
All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about 6 years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy’s manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger.
Quickly, I called for the translator to ask the lad why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately–until he came to the part where Mary put the baby Jesus in the manger.
Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said,
“And when Maria laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay. I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don’t have any place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn’t, because I didn’t have a gift to give him like everybody else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept him warm, that would be a good gift.
So I asked Jesus, “If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?”
And Jesus told me, “If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody ever gave me.”
“So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and he told me I could stay with him—for always.”
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed.
The little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him forever.
Reader: “Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in thy tender care, and fit us for heaven to live with thee there.”
Singers: Away In A Manger (Verses 1 and 3)
Reader: What can we do to help make this prayer come true for all of Heavenly Father’s children? How can we become angels on earth, not just at Christmas, but for always?
We must seek Jesus. We must prepare time for Him in our lives and room for Him in our hearts. Do we get a pang of conscience when we remember, “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn,”? No room. No room. Ever has it been.
In A Christmas Carol, Jacob Marley asks:
“Why did I walk through crowds of fellow beings with my eyes turned down, and never raised them to that blessed star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me?”
And when we raise our heads and follow that star, and truly find Him, will we be prepared as were the wise men of old, to provide gifts from our many treasures? They presented gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are not the gifts Jesus asks of us. From the treasure of our hearts, Jesus asks that we give of ourselves. And, as we lift our sisters and brothers, we will find that we are lifted, too. (Thomas S. Monson)
“We are, each of us, angels with only one wing, and we fly by embracing each other.”
As we close, a last story of Christmas angels and the power of a song. This time, we go to Europe.
It was a dark and cold Christmas Eve on the Western front. The weather had turned very cold, freezing the slush and water of the trenches. It was 1914 and something wonderful was about to happen in the midst of the ugliness of war.
In the darkness, some British soldiers noticed a few flickering lights, raised on bayonets, clearly illuminating the German troops. “What were they doing?” The British wondered, as they held their fire. Looking through binoculars, they saw the German troops holding up Christmas trees with lighted candles in their branches.
The British soldiers stood, wondering what to do next. Then, through the long silence that stretched through “No Man’s Land,” a few simple words: “”Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!” The soldiers heard the familiar and beautiful melody of the beloved hymn, Silent Night, and began to sing along with the Germans.
The spirit of that song– the spirit of Christmas– extended across the hate filled borders of war and for a night, the hatred was forgotten. For that night, there was only the brotherhood that comes in remembering we are all children of God. For that night, the spirit of that perfect babe, who “slept in heavenly peace” allowed these soldiers to do the same. For that night, the Spirit of the Son of God conquered evil and filled the world with “pure light.”
May it ever so be, on that night and for always.
Singers: Silent Night (1st verse in German, 2nd in Spanish/French or another language, 3rd in English)
- 1st Presidency Messages
- Ensign, Teach the Children, President Monson (Raymond)
- Afterhours Inspirational Stories (Mike, Misha)
- Christmas Classics: A Treasury for Latter-day Saints (Wallace Purling)