Waiting for the Gift

A Christmas Program

This Christmas program is about waiting for the gift of Christ. Throughout the service individuals place gifts up front. These are actual gifts purchased with particular church staff in mind. Feel free to adapt this script and to purchase as many gifts as needed. You might choose to purchase gifts for individuals in group homes, those who are incarcerated, or those who live outside. You could even use beautifully wrapped empty boxes.

In the weeks ahead of the service we had each child make a gift for a parent or grandparent to be placed up front at the beginning of the service. At the end of the service we helped children find their gifts again to give away. You could choose to have children make gifts for older congregation members, someone who is sick, or another adult. We suggest clearly labeling each gift with the recipient’s name as well as the giver’s. At the end of the service the children can deliver their gifts to the recipients, or volunteers can distribute them.

Three monologues from Max Lucado’s book One Incredible Moment (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006) were read during the service as pictures depicting the readings were projected.

Ideally all the parts are memorized, but it might be more realistic to encourage participants to know their parts well enough that they do not always need to read directly from the script.

Participants include:

  • Children (chorus): Sunday school children from kindergarten through fifth grade, and perhaps some children who attend other church programs but don’t usually come to worship services. They will need to know a few spoken parts and some Christmas carols.
  • Six children (roles): These children must be able to read and have their part mostly memorized so they can do some acting as well. For most of the service they are dressed as they would normally be, but in Part 3 they wear pajamas.
  • Three adults: Though we used adults, you may choose to use some high schoolers as well.
  • Gift givers: Adjust the number based on your plan (see note below under “Part 1: The Gift”).
  • Four older youth: To bring up gifts, participate in the reading, and sing with the children.
  • Joseph, Mary, and Simeon: Each wears a simple costume and reads a monologue from Max Lucado’s One Incredible Moment.

Part 1

The Gift

Praise Team (with congregation)
“Here I Am to Worship” Hughes, LUYH 567, SSS 395
“Angels We Have Heard on High” French traditional, LUYH 82, GtG 113, SSS 93

[Children enter, each holding a gift made in Sunday school, and find a place to sit toward the back of the stage. At the end of the service, they will give their gifts to parents, grandparents, or friends.]

[A violinist plays the refrain of the Mark Schultz song “Love Has Come” as the six children with speaking parts and other readers move to their places toward the front of the stage.]

Scene 1

[Children with speaking parts sit around gifts and watch. Two adults come up with gifts in their hands, and they place the gifts in front of the children. These gifts are for the church’s custodians. The children stand and look at the gifts.]

Kid 1: Is it time?

Adult 1: No. You need to wait.

Kid 2: Is it time?

Adult 2: No. It’s not time yet.

Kid 3: Is it time?

Adult 3: No. Not yet. All

Kids: Is it time?

All Adults: No. You need to wait.

[Kids sit down and continue to look at gifts.]

Adult 1: Waiting.

Kid 1: Waiting.

Adult 2: Waiting to open a gift.

Adult 3: It’s something familiar to many of us.

Adult 1: Whether we have waited in lines,

Adult 2: or waited for a phone call from a doctor,

All Kids: or waited to open gifts,

Adult 3: or waited for that baby to be born,

Adult 1: or waited for answered prayers.

Adult 3: We don’t like it, but we are accustomed to waiting.

Adult 2: Advent is all about waiting.

Adult 3: God’s people waited a long time for their Messiah to be born.

Adult 1: He was promised to them, but they had to wait.

Adult 2: And when he arrived, they didn’t necessarily like the package he came in. A manger? A Messiah in a manger?

Adult 3: Many did not recognize that the gift of a Savior was right in front of their noses.

Adult 1: Like the ancient Israelites, we wait in anticipation for an event we can only imagine.

Adult 2: They waited for the birth of a Savior.

Adult 1: We wait for his glorious second coming.

Adult 2: So what are you waiting for?

Adult 3: Are you longing for anything?

Adult 1: What are you expecting to receive?

Adult 2: As we look at Christ’s first coming, how can we better prepare for his second coming?

All Kids: Waiting.

All Adults: Waiting for the gift of love.

Congregational Song
“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” Traditional, LUYH 61, GtG 88, SSS 73

 

Part 2

The Promises of Waiting

[Chorus stands.]

Chorus: A promise, a promise, a promise was foretold;
A promise, a promise, a promise that was old
That there would be a Savior,
a Savior that would come.
He’d be the Messiah, God’s chosen one.
A promise, a promise, a promise was foretold.

Songs
Chorus: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Wesley, LUYH 56, GtG 83, SSS 64
Congregation: “The Prophets Came to Israel” Witvoet, PsH 334

[Children sit while skit members move into place.]

Kid 1: We’ve been waiting here awhile now to open these gifts.

Kids 2, 5: We have to wait.

Kids 3, 6: How long?

Kid 4: They promised us that we could open these gifts when the time was right.

Kids 2, 5: We have to wait.

Kid 3: What if they don’t come through with their promises?

Kid 4: I think they will.

Kids 2, 5: We have to wait.

Kids 1, 6: We’ve been waiting!

Kid 4: It’s only been a few minutes. It’s not like we’ve been waiting for an hour.

Kid 2: Or years.

Kid 3: Who’s ever had to wait years to open a gift?

Kid 1: Some people have been waiting a long time to open a gift.

Kid 2: So we have to wait.

Kids 3, 6: How long?

[Kids leave to get changed into pajamas for Part 3.]

Reading of Old Testament Scripture: The Promise
[Four youth group members bring up gifts for youth group leaders. Each says their line and then puts their gift under the tree.]

Youth 1: A promise was foretold: Isaiah 9:6–7.

Adult 2: 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.

Adult 3: Of the greatness 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.

Youth 2: A promise was foretold: Isaiah 7:14.

Adult 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.

Youth 3: A promise was foretold: Micah 5:2.

Adult 1: “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.”

Youth 4: A promise was foretold: Isaiah 60:1–3.

Adult 2: Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

All Youth: O come, O come, Emmanuel.

[The four youth and the chorus sing the refrain of the Mark Schultz song “Love Has Come.”]

Congregational Song
“The King of Glory Comes” Jabusch, PsH 370, SSS 206, WR 159

[Chorus and youth exit. Two adults from the congregation place on the stage the two gifts the speaking children will open.]

 

Part 3

The Messiah Has Come

[Kids run in with pajamas on, excited about the arrival of the day.]

Kid 1: It’s here!

Kid 6: It’s time!

Kid 2: We get to open the gifts!

Kid 3: No more waiting!

Kid 4: Which one shall we open first?

Kid 2: I can’t believe the day has finally come!

Kid 1: We’ve been waiting, like, forever!

Kid 5: Forever!

Kid 3: But we don’t have to wait any more!

Kid 2: I told you the promise would come true!

Kid 4: Let’s get started!

[Kids open the gifts the adults just brought up and freeze when the music starts. When the congregation begins to sing, they unfreeze and join in.]

Congregational Song
“Joy to the World” Watts, LUYH 92 (vs. 1, 2), GtG 134, SSS 95

Three Readings

Congregational Song
“Of the Father’s Love Begotten” Prudentius, LUYH 78, GtG 108, SSS 81

[Chorus returns to stage during the song.]

Congregation: The gift is here. Our generous God gave us the greatest gift of all: he gave us himself. He came as a baby in a manger.

Chorus and Kids: O Come, let us adore him.

Congregation: He came in a lowly stable.

Chorus and Kids: O Come, let us adore him.

Congregation: Shepherds brought their worship.

Chorus and Kids: O come, let us adore him.

Congregation: Angels sang his praise.

Chorus and Kids: O come, let us adore him.

Congregation: Magi brought their gifts.

Chorus and Kids: O Come, let us adore him.

Congregation: What shall we do?

Chorus and Kids: O come, let us adore him!

Children’s Chorus
Suggestions:

“Christmas Bells” L. Schroeder
“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” Wesley, LUYH 80, GtG 119, SSS 94
“Bethlehem Night” Taylor
“Tell the News” McDonald

Congregational Song
“Thou Didst Leave Thy Throne” Elliot, SSS 86
[Chorus exits. Kids with speaking parts remain sitting on stage. Offering is taken during the song.]

Reading
Simeon’s monologue from Max Lucado’s One Incredible Moment.

Solo
[Soloist sings the chorus of the Mark Schultz song “Love Has Come” while two adults bring up two more gifts.]

 

Part 4

Waiting for the Return of Christ

Kid 1: Here we are again.

Kid 2: Waiting again.

Kid 3: How long this time?

Kid 4: I don’t know, but we have to wait.

Kid 5: Are we just going to sit here and watch the rest of these presents? I hate to report this, but they’re not going to do anything. I mean, it isn’t like they are going to grow or walk or anything.

Kid 6: I don’t think we should just sit here.

Kid 1: What do you suggest?

Kid 6: I don’t know.

Kid 2: Oh, I give up. I’m just going to sit here and grow old.

Kid 3: No. We need to go out and do things. We can still wait for these gifts and be excited about opening them while doing things.

Kid 5: I agree. If your dad buys a gift for you two months before your birthday, you don’t just sit around and stare at the present.

Kid 4: You’re right. Yeah. We can still wait and be excited about these gifts, but we need to go out and do something.

Kid 6: Right. Let’s get started.

[Kids exit and change back into their regular clothes.]

Readers’ Theater
Adult 1: For many years, the Jewish people waited for the coming of their Messiah.

Adult 3: “I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.”
—Psalm 130:5

Adult 1: But some had given up hope.

Adult 2: Others had developed a distorted vision of who the Messiah would be and what the Messiah would do for them, which kept them from recognizing him when he did come.

Adult 1: Do we see Jesus?

Adult 3: A faithful few silently and humbly waited, knowing that their Messiah would bring redemption.

Adult 2: “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior.”
—Psalm 130:5

Adult 1: When Jesus came as a baby, the event was hardly what anyone would expect for the coming of a long-awaited King.

Adult 2: The world waited for a king, but when he came they did not recognize the gift.

Adult 3: Are we sometimes like that world? Does God place gifts in front of us that we do not recognize?

Adult 3: Now we are no longer waiting for the coming of the Messiah because he has already come, died, and risen from the dead for us, ascended to heaven, and lives now within our hearts. We have experienced the fulfillment of his coming—the great promise the Israelites had waited years and years for.

Adult 1: Yet we find ourselves still waiting.

Adult 2: We are waiting for Christ’s second coming, but also for other things: the revelation of God’s purpose for our lives, a door of opportunity to open, the fulfillment of the desires of our hearts, and so on.

Adult 3: Be patient and wait. Jesus told the disciples to wait for the gift his Father promised: the Holy Spirit.

Adult 1: Abraham waited for the promised son. Moses waited forty years in the wilderness. Jesus waited thirty years before he began his ministry.

Adult 2: God instills seasons of silence in his plan. Winter is needed for the soil to bear fruit. Time is needed for crops to develop. So too we sometimes need to wait for God to move, nudge, and direct us.

Adult 1: So what do we do while we are waiting? There’s a great danger in waiting our lives away while doing nothing—or worse, giving up hope.

Adult 2: The gift of Christ at Christmas should remind us of the hope that God indwells in the everydayness of our world.

Adult 3: So learn to wait, to be silent, to listen for God’s voice. “Just think—you don’t need a thing, you’ve got it all! All God’s gifts are right in front of you as you wait expectantly for our Master Jesus to arrive on the scene.”
—1 Corinthians 1:7–8, The Message

Adult 1: God has purpose for us even in the waiting periods of our lives. Like Simeon, actively waiting on tiptoes for the fulfillment of God’s promises makes our whole lives purposeful and meaningful.

Adult 2: “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”
—Jude 21

Adult 3: “Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come.” For when he comes, “‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” Behold, he is coming. Rejoice greatly! Shout in triumph!
—Malachi 3:1; Romans 14:11

All: As we wait for his return.

Congregational Song
“Angels, from the Realms of Glory” Montgomery, LUYH 81 (vs. 1 to 4), GtG 143, SSS 99

[Chorus, youth, and kids all return to stage. On verse 4 of “Angels, from the Realms of Glory,” the chorus joins in. This leads into everyone singing the chorus of the Mark Schultz song “Love Has Come” twice, the second time with sign language.]

Prayer/Benediction

Congregational Song
[During the congregational singing, each child finds the gift they brought and then processes out. Then other congregational members who brought gifts come forward to find them so they can give them to their chosen person after the service.]

“Angels, from the Realms of Glory” Montgomery, LUYH 81 (v. 5), GtG 143, SSS 99
“Soon and Very Soon” Crouch, LUYH 482, GtG 384, SSS 357

Janie Van Dyke (jvandyke@unitychristian.net) teaches English and theater at Unity Christian High School in Orange City, Iowa. She is a member of Immanuel Christian Reformed Church in Orange City.