I was asked to write the Christmas program for our choir’s Sacrament Meeting presentation this month. The following is the basic program:
Choir Number: He Who Built the Starry Skies
Narrator 1: The Christmas season is season for giving. Gifts are abundant at this time of year and our hearts and souls are open to the spirit that guides us to give more freely of ourselves, our time and our talents to those we love and those who are in need. Let us listen to some of the words of our prophets as they speak about the gifts of the season.
As President Thomas S. Monson said, “If we change but one word in our Christmas question, the outcome is vastly different. “What did you give for Christmas?” prompts stimulating thought and causes tender feelings to well up and memory’s fires to glow ever brighter. Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things.”
Narrator 2: Henry B. Eyring expressed the message of why mankind is more open to giving to those in need when he said, “God sends those messages to us with more confidence at Christmastime, knowing that we will respond because our hearts are more sensitive to the Savior’s example and to the words of His servants.”
Christmas is a time for giving. Someone once said he couldn’t think of what to give for Christmas. The next day in the mail he received an anonymous list which read:
Give to your enemy forgiveness,
To your opponent tolerance,
To your friend your heart,
To all men charity, for the hands that help
are holier than lips that pray,
To every child a good example,
and to yourself—respect.”
Narrator 1: Often, when we think of Christmas, material gifts and presents under the tree come to mind. Stores and the media constantly ask us to spend, spend, spend and we often tend to express our love by going into debt or giving only physical items. However, the true meaning of Christmas is not in the material gifts, but in the gifts that we can give without taking out our wallet or putting ourselves into financial debt. These gifts we should really give are the gifts that were given at the first Christmas.
Elder Mark E. Petersen talked about this day. “This was the first Christmas. There were no tinseled Christmas trees, no family gatherings, no children at play. But there were carols, the greatest ever sung. The angels of heaven joined in a great chorus rejoicing at the birth of God’s Son. Now the redemption of the world could take place. Salvation could come to all mankind. Death would be overcome, for this little child, when he became a man, would bring about the Resurrection. All mankind could then live again.”
Narrator 2: President Monson, in one of his Christmas messages asked, “I wonder if each might profit today by asking himself, what gift would God have me give to Him or to others at this precious season of the year?”
He then suggested, “May I answer that question and in all solemnity declare to you that our Heavenly Father desires each one of his children to render unto him a gift of obedience so all will actually love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength. Then, I am sure, he will expect us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
But He asks us to be selective and choose those gifts which will last. Said He:
“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:19–21).
Open your hearts to the gifts God would have us give as we think of the peace of that first Christmas night.
Choir Number: On This Still, Silent Night
Narrator 1: What a precious gift was the birth of our Savior. This is a birth that was foretold many times in the scriptures as ancient prophets spoke of the coming of the son of God.
In Isaiah we read, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”
How can we show gratitude for this the knowledge and blessing of having the Savior in our lives? Spencer W. Kimball suggested, “One of the things we can give at Christmas time, that no one else can give, is our thanks. There is so much to be grateful for. I give my thanks to our Heavenly Father and to all of you. This is a time when we ponder our blessings and when we also prepare for the new year, for which we should make new resolves and set new personal goals. This partial inventory of our collective blessings should help us to be ever more grateful and ever more determined. Please do the same within your families. Count your blessings, and express your gratitude to your eternal partners, to your children, and to your parents for all that they do.”
Narrator 2: When we think of Christmas, we often think of lights. There are lights on our homes, lights in our windows, lights on the trees.
The Prophet Samuel foretold how light would be a sign of the Savior’s birth when he said, “And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.”
“Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign;..”
“And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.”
As President Henry B Eyring said, “There is another glimpse of heaven that becomes easier to see at Christmastime. It is of light. Heavenly Father used light to announce the birth of His Son, our Savior (see Matthew 2; 3 Nephi 1). A new star was visible in both the Eastern and the Western Hemispheres. It led the Wise Men to the child in Bethlehem. Even wicked King Herod recognized the sign; he feared it because he was wicked. The Wise Men rejoiced because of the birth of the Christ, who is the Light and the Life of the World. Three days of light without darkness was the sign God gave to the descendants of Lehi, heralding the birth of His Son.
Such light will be visible in our heavenly home. It will bring us joy then. Yet even in this life you have been blessed with a part of that wonderful experience, through the Light of Christ. Every person born into the world receives that light as a gift.
That light is easier to discern at Christmastime, when we are more likely to pray to know what God would have us do and more likely to read in the scriptures and so more apt to be on the Lord’s errand. Our worship of the Savior and our service for Him brings light into our lives and into the lives of those around us.”
Narrator 1: The humble songs of our Primary children express so perfectly the story of the birth of Jesus. We would like the Primary Children to come up and join us on the stand at this time.
Coralyn: Softly play Away In a Manger while the children come up.
Once children are quiet – Narrator 1 continues…..
Narrator 1: The story of the first Christmas is given to us in the book of Luke: And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. 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.
Children: Once Within a Lowly Stable
Children: Picture a Christmas
Primary children are excused.
Coralyn: Softly play Silent Night while the children are seated.
Narrator 2: And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
Narrator 1: And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it
wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered
them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
Congregational Hymn 207 – It Came upon the Midnight Clear
Narrator 2: In order to feel the real spirit of Christmas, we need to try to follow the example of the Savior.
President Howard W. Hunter suggested, “This Christmas, mend a quarrel. Seek out a forgotten friend. Dismiss suspicion and replace it with trust. Write a letter. Give a soft answer. Encourage youth. Manifest your loyalty in word and deed. Keep a promise. Forgo a grudge. Forgive an enemy. Apologize. Try to understand. Examine your demands on others. Think first of someone else. Be kind. Be gentle. Laugh a little more. Express your gratitude. Welcome a stranger. Gladden the heart of a child. Take pleasure in the beauty and wonder of the earth. Speak your love and then speak it again.”
Narrator 1: President Monson also suggested that “Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. To catch the real meaning of the “spirit of Christmas,” we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the “Spirit of Christ.”
When we have the spirit of Christmas, we remember Him whose birth we commemorate at this season of the year. We contemplate that first Christmas day, foretold by the prophets of old.
If we are to have the very best Christmas ever, we must listen for the sound of sandaled feet. We must reach out for the Carpenter’s hand. With every step we take in His footsteps, we abandon a doubt and gain a truth.”
As we give of ourselves and think of others during the holiday season, it is calming and easier to think of those in need when we remember the humble circumstances into which the baby Jesus was born.
Narrator 2: Think for a moment and ask yourselves, What is the best Christmas present you have ever received?
President Gordon B. Hinckley expressed this best gift so well when he declared,
“He came as a gift of His Eternal Father. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
On Calvary’s hill He gave His life for each of us. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
We honor His birth. But without His death that birth would have been but one more birth. It was the redemption which He worked out in the Garden of Gethsemane and upon the cross of Calvary which made His gift immortal, universal, and everlasting. His was a great Atonement for the sins of all mankind. He was the resurrection and the life, “the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Cor. 15:20). Because of Him all men will be raised from the grave.
Christmas is more than trees and twinkling lights, more than toys and gifts and baubles of a hundred varieties. It is love. It is the love of the Son of God for all mankind. It reaches out beyond our power to comprehend. It is magnificent and beautiful.