The Candles of Christmas

Our Christmas program centered around the Advent Candles. The candles play an important role in our preparation for Christmas. Each Sunday we light another candle signifying a certain feature of our preparations. Our traditional worship assigns the first Sunday as the Candle of Hope; the second is Peace; the third is Joy; and the fourth is Love. On Christmas Eve we light the center candle – the Christ candle representing God with us. Our program took another track which some churches celebrate. The first candle, portrayed by Leah Dietrich, stood for Prophecy. Brooke Aton’s candle represented the city of Bethlehem. Morgan Hodle portrayed the Mary candle. The Angel candle was represented by Kelsey Rinehimer. The play began with Christina (Becca Biddinger) decorating her home for Christmas, which included bringing out the Advent candles. As Christina is busy with her decorating, the candles come alive. But instead of encouraging the preparation for the Christ Child, they bicker among themselves as to who is the greatest candle. Prophecy insists that without the prophets’ foretelling, people would not have looked for the hope of salvation. Bethlehem asserts that it is most important because shepherds outside the city were the first to worship Jesus. Mary is proud of being the mother of the Savior and believes that makes her most important and sings the Magnificat, Mary’s song. Angel claims to be most important because no one would have known where to find the baby without the angels’ proclamation to the shepherds. All these were reinforced by scenes portrayed as the candles made their claims. Robert Duffy, III, read the prophecies after which the Chancel Choir sang Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming. Brayden Belanchik, Rowan Dietrich, Matteo Belanchik and Sabian Bunnell were the shepherds of Bethlehem who sang of finding Jesus through the song The World Was at Peace That Night. Angles Becca Biddinger, Scarlett Sevison and Cindy Myers proclaimed the angels’ song, Glory to God in the Highest. When all the candles had their say, Joseph (Robert Duffy, III) and Mary (Paige Ceaser) came forward humbly repeating God’s promise of salvation through their son, Jesus. All the cast joined in singing Jesus Is His Name. After that, Christina brings out the center candle, the Christ candle, represented by Baby Jesus. Upon seeing the baby in the center of them, the Advent candles realize the most important part of Christmas is Christ and acknowledge their foolishness in arguing among themselves. We ended with the cast and congregation singing One Candle Is Lit. I am very thankful to everyone who helps make the Christmas programs possible – the children and youth, their parents, grandparents and guardians, Sunday School teachers, Kids and Chancel Choirs, people who help set up the scenes, and my sister, Donna, who keeps me on track and calm. Thank you for the most wonderful Christmas present – your love.

Emmanuel UCC

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