By Katie Helmreich
In those days a decree went out, that everyone should return to their own homes and stay there. This was the first pandemic in a hundred years, and all went up from one place to the other wearing masks.
And in the same region there were children, doing their best to navigate school in the midst of a pandemic. But once again an angel, with crumpled cardboard wings and a crooked halo, appeared to them and said, “Fear not, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people! For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord! And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of masked children, spaced 6 feet apart, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those on whom His favor rests!”
The kids said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us!” And they went with haste, filled with joyful anticipation as they approached the stable! They found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger, just as they had been told.
And the children went forth with unbridled enthusiasm, running and jumping, dancing and singing! Glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been each and every Christmas before!
Luke 2:1-20 (adapted)
Children’s Christmas Programs are all a bit different this year. This is the first year all three of my kids will be in the Program at our church, and I’m grieving normal a bit. I used to laughingly complain about being packed in like sardines, but I think I’ll miss that reminder of the multitude of believers that celebrate the gift of Christ with us and these kids.
On the other hand, it’s been great to see all the silver linings! The kids were excited about getting to record their parts ahead of time, instead of having one chance to get it right in front of a packed church. Instead of rehearsing for hours, they were done as soon as they finished a successful recording.
In past years we’ve usually had a mad rush of early supper, hair brushing, arguing about wearing nice clothes, and discovering their church shoes suddenly don’t fit. We live about 45 seconds away from church, but we usually dash in just in time for the kids to get where they need to be. This year? We just had to get the kids to school on time, like any normal Thursday. Hallelujah!
My family lives all over the place, and I’m really excited to share the kids’ program with many of them for the first time! My grandma can watch the Christmas Program without leaving her house, and she’ll be able to see the kids up close and hear everything perfectly. How cool is that?!
One of my kids recently asked me what a “digital evangelist” is. This year, it’s them! They’ve heard the story. They have met Jesus! And now they’re glorifying and praising God for all they have heard and seen, as it has been told them!
I’m really glad the kids will get to glimpse the way they are blessing all of us with their witness.
Christmas Programs are different this year, but Christ is the same! Jesus came to us with grace and love. Fulfilling every prophecy from ages past, and with perfect knowledge of all the things yet to be. This is good news of great joy for all people!
I pray that, even in the midst of all this “different,” you will be overwhelmed with His tidings of comfort and joy! I’m not a crier, but I always get teary eyed at the Christmas program. I love watching the kids loving Jesus. And I’m so grateful I get to see it again this year!
We may be sitting on our own couches (packed in like sardines for old times’ sake), but we all join in with “the heavenly host praising God and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those on whom His favor rests!”
“For my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.”