Childrens Christmas Play
West Smyrna Baptist Church Smyrna, New York
Families tend to develop traditions as to how they spend Christmas and surprisingly those patterns can remain for quite a number of years. Growing up in a large family, we had traditions at Christmas that many of us still talk about today. Perhaps your family has routines or traditions that repeat every year as well. But I’ll leave the details of our family Christmas a mystery for now…..What I want to tell you about are the memories I have every year at this time about the Christmas Service at the country church where I grew up. The church was called West Smyrna Baptist Church in Smyrna New York. It’s still there, still open and preaching The Word, and it has the same name! Now, when some people hear New York, they immediately think of concrete and skyscrapers. This area was in what is called “upstate” or out in the country, with lots and lots of hills – or what many would call mountains!
The special Christmas program would be in the evening, sometimes on a Sunday – but not always, because this wasn’t a concert or anything like that, but it was a fun church family Christmas gathering! The decorations were simple…..many were made by hand – but beautiful and they were spread thoughout the church building. One year I remember the Christmas tree was shaped so poorly it had to be tied up to keep it from falling over – what a great memory for a country boy like me! I don’t remember the exact order of service, but somewhere we would either have an acting out of the “Christmas Story” by children and some years a reading from scripture of that story. The Men’s Quartet would usually sing a few songs and at least one of them would be really funny, with the others being serious and with beautiful harmony. Then I remember some years “L.R.” would write a poem about Christmas and read it! Of course, we would always sing plenty of Christmas songs, one song we always sang was “The First Noel”. There was a man in the church named Ken who had an incredible range to his voice and when he hit that ‘fourth Noel’ he could put that thing right through the rafters of that building! It’s been close to fifty years since I last heard Ken singing out on the “First Noel”…..The song has always had something missing ever since. Another thing that made it feel like ‘family’ even though there would be usually over 100 people there, was that there was a little time of passing out presents! Every young child who was there received a small, wrapped gift to open and everyone present received a candy cane! Some years we had natural sound effects coming from outside because it would be snowing and blowing so hard you could hear the wind howling and the windows rattling, and it just seemed to make the entire experience even more special!
When I reflect on those days and the “Simple Country Christmas” it seems like those programs helped make everyone relax and enjoy the true message of Christmas. In Mark 6:31 Jesus told his apostles to “come away by yourselves to a secluded place and rest awhile”.
The very first message of Christmas went out to the country where in Luke 2:8-20 the story is told about an angel of the Lord appearing among the shepherds who were out living with the sheep! And then of course Christ was born in a small “stable” or barn as we might call it. So right in the midst of that little town of Bethlehem, the world experienced the most important “Simple Country Christmas”, as Jesus began his 33-year journey to the cross to provide Salvation to all who choose to believe in Him. Thank you, Jesus, and Happy Birthday!
Till Next Time…..