A Simple Way to Remember

Is this day going the way you’d hoped?

Because if it isn’t, I can guarantee you, you are not alone.

Perhaps it’s the home you’re in. Maybe you’re in your own home when you’d rather be at your parents’, but money was too tight this year to travel. Maybe you’re at your in-laws when, let’s just say it, you’d rather be celebrating with your side of the family. Maybe you’ve recently moved and you’re “home.” But this “home” doesn’t feel like home just yet, but rather a collection of empty walls reminding you of the pictures you haven’t hung because the people in the pictures are far away now and it just hurts too much.

Or maybe it’s not the place, but the people. Maybe relatives are arguing and you’re trying to play peacemaker but your words fall on deaf ears and loud mouths and is it really going to be like this every year? Or maybe you’re the one starting it, the snipping and the passive-aggressive jabs, because you’ve been working yourself into the ground making sure the baking/decorating/shopping/wrapping are all done just so, and for heaven’s sake, you’re TIRED.

For those of us with little ones—maybe you’ve done everything right! You’ve kept your cool through the frenzy of this week, clung to simple, tried with everything in you to lower your expectations and just enjoy this season. But because life is life and motherhood is motherhood, the baby woke up screaming at 4 am and the toddler’s running a fever and your older two are fighting, and everything you did to foster peace today is running like sand through your fingers.

For some of us, our hearts are simply aching this Christmas.

Maybe you’re mourning the recent death of a loved one, or still missing one who passed long ago.

Maybe you’re pushing with all your might through an impossibly difficult time financially.

Maybe you’re facing illness yourself, or carrying the burdens of those who are fighting for their lives.

Maybe the news has haunted your dreams as of late. The weight of the world and the millions in it who are suffering today is on your shoulders, and how can you celebrate? What’s fair about that?

Here’s the simple truth, the bare bones of the Gospel: this is why He came.

Two thousand years ago, the world was exactly as it is today. Maybe not externally, sure, but internally? People were the same. Struggling, burdened, aching. Discontent and restless. Searching for answers to questions too big for their own logic.

The Father looked at the world, and out of His incomparable love for it, for us, He said to Himself: it’s time.

And a precious baby boy was born in a filthy stable, and flipped the whole world on its axis.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

He came for those longing to be home… and longs to give them an eternal home beyond what they can imagine.

He came for the angry arguers… and fights to become their ultimate Peacemaker.

He came for the little children… and craves for them to call him Father.

He came for the broken, aching, hurting, hopeless masses. He came to heal, comfort, restore, and bring Hope—BE Hope—for each and every one of us who needs Him. And let’s face it. We ALL need Him.

So if this season of Advent has gotten away from you, or if this day hasn’t gone as you’d imagined, may I offer a suggestion?

Instead of shrugging it off and vowing to do better next year, let’s do something about it. Let’s take twenty minutes to reorient our hearts. Let’s stop and remember that He is the Light that the darkness will never put out. This candlelight drama is simple, short, perfect for all ages, and is one of our family’s favorite ways to push pause and remember.

Remember that whatever you are facing, you are loved by a Father who gave his only Son for you and for the world. Remember that He came not to condemn but to save. Remember: you are not alone.

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A Christmas Candlelight Drama

 Preparation (takes 5 minutes!): gather all the candles in the house. On a table arrange three candles to represent Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, respectively; a group to represent the shepherds; a group to represent the wise men (doesn’t have to be three, the Bible doesn’t specify); and a group of the tallest candles to represent the angels. Then distribute copies of this script, a candle each for every person in attendance, and designate roles: someone to lead in song, someone to light the candles, and the narrator roles.

(everyone sings a cappella)

O Come, All Ye Faithful

O come, all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant

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

Narrator 1: And it came to pass in those days, that a proclamation was made by Caesar Augustus that the entire inhabited world should be registered. This was the first census undertaken while Cyrenius was governor of Syria; and everyone went to the town of their birth to be registered.

Joseph (light Joseph candle) went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to the city of David, Bethlehem, in Judea, because he was a direct descendant of David, to be registered with his future wife Mary (light Mary candle) who was pregnant.

O Little Town of Bethlehem

O little town of Bethlehem

How still we see thee lie

Above thy deep and dreamless sleep

The silent stars go by

Yet in thy dark streets shineth

The everlasting Light

The hopes and fears of all the years

Are met in thee tonight

Narrator 2: And while they were in Bethlehem, the time came for her to be delivered. She gave birth to her first child, a Son (light Jesus candle). There was no place for them inside the inn, so she laid Him in a manger.

Away in a Manger

Away in a manger, no crib for His bed

The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head

The stars in the sky looked down where He lay

The little Lord Jesus, asleep on the hay

Narrator 3: There were some shepherds living in the same part of the country, keeping guard throughout the night over their flocks in the open fields (light shepherd candles).

The First Noel

The first Noel, the angel did say

Was to certain poor shepherds in fields where they lay

In fields where they lay keeping their sheep

On a cold winter’s night that was so deep

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel

Born is the King of Israel

Narrator 4: Suddenly, an angel of the Lord stood before them, the splendor of the Lord blazed around them, and they were terror stricken. But the angel (light tallest angel) said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen, I bring you glorious news of great joy that is for all the people. This very day, in the city of David, a Savior has been born for you. He is Christ the Lord. Let this prove it to you. You will find a baby, wrapped up and lying in a manger.”

And suddenly there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of heaven (light all angel candles). They were praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace among those with whom He is pleased!”

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Hark! The herald angels sing

Glory to the newborn King

Peace on earth and mercy mild

God and sinners reconciled

Joyful, all ye nations rise

Join the triumph of the skies

With angelic host proclaim

Christ is born in Bethlehem

Narrator 5: The shepherds said to one another, “Now, let us go straight to Bethlehem and see this thing which the Lord has made known to us.”

So they went as fast as they could and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the manger. And when they had seen this sight, they told everyone what had been said to them about the little Child.

Go, Tell It on the Mountain

While shepherds kept their watching

O’er silent flocks by night

Behold throughout the heavens

There shone a holy light

Go, tell it on the mountain

Over the hills and everywhere

Go, tell it on the mountain

That Jesus Christ is born

Narrator 6: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, (light wise men candles) “Where is He that is born King of the Jews?”

And now the star, which they had seen in the east, went in front of them until at last it shone immediately above the place where the little Child lay.

The sight of the star filled them with indescribable joy. So they went into the house and found the little Child with His mother, Mary. And they fell on their knees and worshiped Him. Then they opened up their treasures and presented Him with gifts – gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

What Child is This

What Child is this, who laid to rest

On Mary’s lap is sleeping?

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet

While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing

Haste, haste to bring Him laud

The Babe, the Son of Mary

Narrator 7: Then, since they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, the wise men went back to their own country by a different route. (Extinguish wise men candles.)

And the shepherds went back to work, glorifying and praising God for everything they had seen and heard. (Extinguish shepherd candles.)

And the angels returned to heaven. (Extinguish angel candles.)

            And many years later, Mary and Joseph, being flesh and bone, came to the end of their earthly lives. (Extinguish Mary and Joseph candles.)

But the Light that began in Bethlehem was life. And this life was the Light of all humanity. The Light still shines in the darkness and the darkness has never put it out. (Light first person’s candle from the Jesus candle, then begin passing the light.)

And it all began on a silent, holy night, long ago….

Silent Night

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

(Everyone’s candle should now be lit.)

Joy to the World

Joy to the world, the Lord has 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!