The Children’s Christmas Service
By Julius Ariail
Posted December 20, 2013
“Let’s hear the bells!” — the traditional call from a music leader to the congregation during the children’s Christmas service
The Children’s Christmas service at Christ Church is a joyful, noisy, swirling celebration of Christmas in which children are invited to participate in several parts — some planned, some spontaneous. One never knows from year to year what exactly will happen, but happen it will, and the delight in the children’s faces is always a wonder to behold. If you have children in your family, please consider encouraging them to participate this year in one or all of the activities outlined below. The children’s service will start at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, December 24th, and lasts about an hour.
Bells and Bell Staves
Bring your favorite bell or set of bells or especially bells mounted on a long pole, otherwise known around Christ Church as a “bell staff.” Check out this Vineyard article about the bell staves with several photos of them in action. We will be singing many, many Christmas hymns accompanied by guitars, and children and adults alike ring their bells during the Christmas hymns or just about any other time as the service progresses. Some ringing is intentional, some unintended as a bell apparatus is accidentally dropped by a toddler, but it’s all a joyful noise and adds a delight to the sounds of the service. Bells will be available at the church for those who might not have brought their own from home. If you do choose to assemble your own bell set or bell staff, remember: each one is unique and creativity is welcome. Be sure to save your bell creation to bring back next year. Some of the bell staves in use now have been rung merrily in the children’s service for decades.
Procession of the Crèche Figurines
At the start of the service, there will be an empty nativity scene on a table in the church. Children are invited to gather in the foyer and carry one of the crèche figurines in the procession with the choir and clergy. Once they reach the front of the church, each child will be invited to help place a figurine into the nativity scene.
The Christmas Story
In place of a regular sermon, there will be a re-telling of the Christmas story, and children will be invited to come forward and gather near the narrator for the story. We usually wait until Epiphany to have a costumed Christmas pageant featuring our children, so this section of the service will be a narrative.
Lighting of Candles
Soon after the telling of the Christmas story, children come forward with an unlit candle which an adult lights and places in a sandbox near the creche. Candles will be available in the foyer for those who might not have brought their own from home. After all of the candles are lit, everyone is invited to sing a children’s Christmas hymn.
Ringing of the Church Bell
You’ve probably noticed a “bell theme” in this article, and one final bell event takes place at the end of the service when the church bell in the tower is rung by anyone and everyone who would like to do so. The bell rope is in the foyer, and adult assistance will be available for children who would like to help (caution: the upsweep of the motion of the bell has been known to pull little people off the ground for a few feet; however, what goes up must come down again….)
And that’s it! (Except for any spontaneous parts, which can never be predicted in advance — come and see for yourself what will happen!)