This children’s Christmas program, which incorporates questions and answers from the Heidelberg Catechism, follows the well-known structure of “sin, salvation, and service.” It is a celebration of God’s love for us and our response in faith.
The program includes children reading parts, making music, and holding up props at appropriate times, making it easy to include larger or smaller groups of children of various ages and reading abilities. You’ll want to use older children or adults to read the Narrator parts. If you like, use simple costumes for prophets, angels, shepherds, and wise men. Feel free to substitute songs that your children already know or are learning.
Prior to the service I contacted parents whose jobs require some sort of uniform (firefighter, doctor, nurse, coach, postal worker, police officer, and so on), as well as a mother with a baby, a child, and a grandparent. During Act 3, when the Narrator began proclaiming “Come,” these people were to walk to the front and gather around the manger, showing how they are being faithful servants of Jesus in their lives. (I kept the role of the parents a secret from the kids!)
Before the service, create the following props:
For inspiration, I used the cartoon drawing book Animals Are for Fun by Ed Nofziger, but you could create your own patterns or have kids draw their own. Use posterboard or other heavy cardboard and markers, and attach the images to yardsticks or dowels (see photo). Give them to kids with no speaking parts and signal them to hold up their prop at the appropriate time (see script). Make sure they keep the props out of sight until then. The surprise is priceless when the pictures of creation emerge out of the group of kids!
If possible, include a simple manger on the platform.
Chimes ensemble: “O Come, O Come, Immanuel,” arr. deWaal Malefyt (sung by grade 5)
Procession: Students in grades 1-5 process in from all directions, singing “O Come, O Come, Immanuel,” CH 245, PH 9, PsH 328, SFL 123, SWM 81, TH 194, WR 154
Opening Remarks and Prayer
Act 1: Sin
Narrator 1: Way back at the beginning of time, long, long, ago, long before anyone can remember, God made the world. But it didn’t look the way it does now, because there were no people. There were no animals or birds, no trees or bushes or flowers. Everything was lonely and dark.
Then God said, “Let there be light,” and light came. God was pleased with it. He called the light Day. And when the day was gone, and the darkness came again, God called that darkness Night. God did these things on the first day of creation.
Then God made the sky [clouds go up] and God called the sky Heaven. God did this on the second day of creation.
Then God said that the waters covering the earth should become oceans and lakes [waves go up], and the earth should appear. God made the grass grow [grass goes up], and the flowers [flowers go up], and the trees [trees go up]. All this was on the third day of creation.
On the fourth day God let the sun shine in the daytime [raise sun slowly] and the moon and the stars at night [moon and stars go up].
On the fifth day God made great sea creatures and the fish [fish go up behind waves]. He made the birds [birds go up]. Some, like ducks and geese, lived near the water; others, like eagles, robins, pigeons, and wrens, lived in the woods and fields.
On the sixth day of creation God made the animals [animals go up]: those that are wild and live out in the forests, such as elephants, lions, tigers, and bears, and those that are tame and useful, such as rabbits, horses, cows, and sheep.
And God was pleased with all these things.
“God Made Everything” SWM 56
“All Things Bright and Beautiful” PsH 435 (grade 2)
“Who Made Ocean, Earth, and Sky?” SWM 63 (descant on xylophones—alto on question, bass on answer; grade 5)
Narrator 1: And then God created people. God created them good and in his own image
“The Lord Is Great” SWM 61 (two students on hand drum; two students on xylophone)
“Thank You, Lord, for Making Me” SWM 64
“For the Music of Creation” SNC 37 (students and congregation, trumpet on second verse)
Narrator 1: Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were tempted by Satan and fell into sin and disobedience.
Student 1: Did God create people so wicked and perverse?
Student 2: No. God created them good and in his own image, that is, in true righteousness and holiness, so that they might truly know God their creator, love him with all their heart, and live with him in eternal happiness for his praise and glory. (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 6)
Act 2: Salvation
Narrator 2: By their disobedience, Adam and Eve robbed themselves and all their descendants of these gifts. We could not save ourselves from punishment, but God had a plan to restore our lives. God sent his Son Jesus into the world to become the Savior for lost humanity. God sent prophets to foretell Christ’s birth.
Scripture Readings: [student readers dressed as prophets]
Prophet 1: A voice of one calling: “In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:3-5)
Prophet 2: Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
“Immanuel” SNC 117
“O Come, O Come, Immanuel” CH 245, PH 9, PsH 328, SFL 123, SWM 81, TH 194, WR 154
Prophet 3: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. (Micah 5:2)
Prophet 4: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned. . . . For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)
Narrator 2: In those days the Jews were under the rule of the Romans. They had to do whatever the emperor of Rome and his assistants told them to. The emperor instructed everyone to go to the city where his ancestors had lived, so that the Roman officers could record their names. So Joseph and Mary went to Bethlehem where King David used to live, because they were relatives of his, though David had lived hundreds of years before Joseph and Mary were born.
[Mary & Joseph start slowly down the aisle to the manger.]
But when they arrived at Bethlehem, there was no room for them at the inn. So they went out to the stable where the donkeys and camels were kept, to sleep in the straw on the floor. While they were resting in the stable, Mary’s baby was born. He was the Son that the angel Gabriel had told her about. Yes, Jesus was born there in the stable; and Mary dressed him in some baby clothes she had brought, and wrapped him up in a blanket, and laid him in a manger.
“Hush, My Babe, Lie Still and Slumber,” Jody W. Lindh
“Night of Silence,” Daniel Kantor
“Mary Had a Baby” SWM 98
“Amen” SWM 88
Narrator 2: That same night, some shepherds in the fields outside the town were watching their sheep to protect them from the wild animals [shepherds enter]. Suddenly, an angel surrounded by a bright light appeared to them [angel 1 enters]. The shepherds were very frightened. But the angel said,
Angel 1: Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. (Luke 2:10-12)
Narrator 2: [angels 2 and 3 enter] Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
Angel 2: Glory to God in the highest heaven . . .
Angel 3: . . . and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests. [angels exit]
Narrator 2: After the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one other,
Shepherd 1: Let’s hurry to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about. [shepherds walk to manger]
Narrator 2: So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby, who was lying in the manger.
“Angel Carol,” arr. Anna Laure Page (grades 4 and 5 on song; grade 3 on “Infant Holy”; grade 5 on chimes)
“The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy,” arr. Dorothy and Tom Christopherson (student on maraca; student on wood block)
“Angels We Have Heard on High” CH 278, PH 23, PsH 347, SFL 133, SWM 90, TH 214, WR 188 (students and congregation)
“Mary’s Boy Child” SWM 101
Narrator 2: Later, some men who study the stars came to Jerusalem from a distant land. [wise men enter]
Wise Man 1: Where is the baby who will become King of the Jews? For we have seen his star and have come to worship him.
Narrator 2: They knew from seeing the star that Jesus had been born. So the men went to Bethlehem. [wise men walk to manger; first grader holds star above manger] As they went, the star they had seen appeared to them again and seemed to stand right over a certain place. They went in and saw the baby there with his mother, Mary, and they bowed and worshiped him. They gave presents to the new King—precious gifts of gold and spices.
“On This Day Earth Shall Ring” Hymns for Youth 61
“As With Gladness Men of Old” CH 290, PH 63, PsH 358, SFL 143, TH 226, WR 236 (students and congregation)
Act 3: Service
Narrator 3: So Christ came into the world to free his people from their sin—sin that started with Adam and Eve. God loved this world so much that he gave his only Son to pay the price for the sins of the world. By accepting Jesus’ gift of salvation, many people through the ages have been given real joy. That is why even today we celebrate his coming to earth, for this is the time of joy for all God’s people.
Student 1: What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?
Student 2: First, that believers one and all, as members of this community, share in Christ and in all his treasures and gifts. Second, that each member should consider it a duty to use these gifts readily and cheerfully for the service and enrichment of the other members. (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 55)
Organ softly begins to play “O Come All Ye Faithful”
Narrator 3: Many people worshiped Jesus, the newborn child, that first Christmas. That worship has continued for more than two thousand years. Today we too worship and serve the King of kings, who now reigns in heaven. From all walks of life and from all generations, we are called to worship by giving ourselves to him. [parents with occupational attire slowly begin walking toward manger]
Narrator 3: Come, all who bow before him in repentance and humility. Come, all who are burdened with care. With your fears, your doubts, and your unbelief, come! Come with your joys, with your highest ambitions, your greatest abilities. Come with your love. Come with thanksgiving to share in this dark world. Come to Jesus with your heart. Christ will use you to tell others his story of love and grace. Come! Worship! Live!
“O Come All Ye Faithful” PsH 340 (students and congregation)
[parents gather around manger]
Narrator 3: Boys and girls, moms and dads, grandpas and grandmas, and everyone gathered here today, What is your only comfort in life and in death?
All: That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and death—to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him. (Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 1)
“O Come All Ye Faithful” PsH 340, stanza 4