A Christmas story cannot be told without including the important role that God assigned the Christmas angels in the Scriptural account in Luke 2:8,9. "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." Christmas angels were introduction hosts to not only Mary, but also to the frightened shepherds who were busy watching their flocks at night. They not only give the Christmas story a child-like appeal, but an adult comfort that God takes care of the people that believe in Him.
These mystical creatures have long been a favorite in many dramatic presentations of the nativity. In a Christmas story enacted by children, there is usually a clamor to see who gets to wear the wings of the Christmas angels! Even the adult versions within major pageants exude the most dramatic effects as they swirl overhead in the atmosphere. A retelling the Scriptural account of the birth of the Christ child is punctuated with the extraordinary worship of the angelic hosts. May this be an example for us during the holiday season as we give praise to our Lord, Jesus Christ. "I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever." (Psalm 145:1) The comfort that these winged guardians bring simply add to the feeling and experience of Christmastime. Anyone who feels insecure around the holidays would definitely find comfort in knowing that angels watch over all people.
They were involved not only in announcing the birth of Jesus to them, but also in instructing them about what to do next. "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people." This proclamation was the beginning of a Christmas story that they had never heard. The Christmas angels told them, "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." After the mighty chorus of Christmas angels had worshipped, they returned to heaven according to the biblical account.
Christmas greeting cards are such a firm tradition during the Christmas season that it's hard to imagine a time when they were not available. Surprisingly, the idea for these type of greetings was not another product of American ingenuity, but sprang from the creativity of an Englishman in the early 1800's. Sir Henry Cole was a wealthy philanthropist who sent handwritten letters to all his friends during the holidays. His list eventually became so long that it became impossible for him to hand write all his Christmas cards. In 1843 he finally hired an artist to create a picture of the poor and disadvantaged, which he subsequently had printed onto good paper stock. The idea caught on with the British and stirred a demand for similar products, which spawned companies that produced them in mass volume.
For over 30 years, Americans ordered Christmas cards from British companies because no one produced cards in the United States. Quick to seize the opportunity to begin his own business in America, a German immigrant began the first company in American that mass produced Christmas greeting cards for the general public. Louis Prang offered products that Americans were eager to purchase for their friendly, homey sayings. His first ones were neutral scenes that consumers purchased; his later ones depicted the Christmas story taken from biblical passages like Luke 2:11, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord." Christmas cards depicting the story of the Christ child quickly became his most popular products.
The selection of appropriate art has expanded through the years, providing consumers with not only reproductions of famous Victorian scenes but also designs from American artists. Norman Rockwell's heartwarming, homespun artistry is still reprinted today for some of the most nostalgic Christmas greeting cards available. The famous Kewpie doll creator and artist, Rosie O'Neill's artwork is still in high demand through reproduction printings as well as sales of other holiday collectibles. Humorous American artists such as Charles Shultz, the creator of 'Peanuts', also offers a delightful and humorous twist for Christmas cards.
The demand for these products will most likely continue as long as the United States Postal System is in existence! However, no matter what the latest design or trendiest theme marketed in order to sell these products, those that depict scenes of the real meaning of the holiday continue to be the most popular. Christmas greeting cards displaying the nativity scene, Christ child, wise men, joyful angels, and worshipping shepherds continue to top the sales on the market. It is good to know that in a changing world, some things never change! "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever." (Hebrews 13:8)
Christmas Church PlaysChristmas musicals can be purchased from a large selection of music found through many Christian music companies and book stores. Anything a coordinator needs in order to plan a Christmas church play or musical can be ordered in single copy or multiple copies for group or individual use. Holiday productions are offered in many different skill levels in order to meet the needs of any group.
Holiday productions are a popular form of church worship during Christmas and can include drama and multimedia presentations as well as music within the production. Sometimes Christmas church plays include songs within the body of the presentation, and can be found in many styles, themes, difficulty levels and prices. Christmas musicals as well as church plays are also offered that are designed for particular age groups such as senior adults, youth, children, ensembles and adult sanctuary choirs. Depending on the participants and target audience, one can find an almost limitless selection for nativity productions throughout many Christian supply sources. For other Christmas resources, click here.
Making "a joyful noise unto the Lord" during the season is not only related to singers in musicals and concerts. Orchestra scores for Christmas musicals are also available, allowing a church to include the benefit of its orchestra for accompaniment. If ones church does not have its own orchestra, individuals may purchase accompaniment tracks. Christmas church plays may also need music tracks for background effects and that can be purchased as well through many Christian companies. Keep in mind the capabilities of a musical team or drama team when selecting an arrangement. Also, bear in mind the number of cast members that are required to make the productions a success.
Many musicians make the mistake of overextending their volunteer personnel and end up attempting productions that are too complicated or demanding for their skill level. It is always better to choose simpler Christmas musicals that can be technically attained than to barely get through a complicated presentation. A polished, confidently presented score that is a bit easier in difficulty can minister to the hearers much more effectively than a poorly done piece that distracts the audience with a strained production. After all, isn't ministry to others and worship to the Savior the point of all musicals and Christmas church plays anyway? "Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." (Matthew 1:23)
Giving Christmas gifts to loved ones and family members is a very special part of the holiday celebration. When the weather turns cooler, Christmas gift ideas are on the minds of shoppers and parents, all looking for the wonderful present that will bring joy and fulfillment on Christmas morning. Santa always has the perfect bag of stuff that never disappoints his recipients! Giving at this time of year is a long time tradition associated with the birth of Christ, and most people believe that we share presents with one another in a celebration of the three wise men who brought offerings to the child king, Jesus Christ. However, there is more history associated with giving and exchanging presents than this, and a brief look into the complete history of giving will open eyes to the concepts of the tradition.
Most of us are familiar with the story of St. Nick, or Santa Clause. Legend has it that he was originally Saint Nicholas, the bishop of Myra in Lycia. Though little is truly known about this patron saint, his apparent practice of kindness and giving toys and candy to children caused for the Eastern and Western churches to take note and continue the practice by naming a day in his honor, December 6th. Throughout the ages, parents told their children that if they were good, the saint would come and visit them again. And throughout the ages, Saint Nicholas has evolved through several cultures and customs to be our modern day Santa Clause, who knows and sees all, rewarding children for good behavior with Christmas gifts.
Another interesting and historical fact that has evolved into modern day holiday presents exchanging, is the ancient celebration of Saturnalia, of ancient Rome. During the Saturnalia Feast, which marked a the resurrection of the sun-god, Tammuz, the Romans gave gifts to each other in celebration of the return of the sun and to wish each other luck and prosperity. This festival was celebrated until the time of Constantine, when he commanded that the festival become Christian friendly and named the day the birth of Christ.
How these ancient practices have evolved into modern-day practices is amazing. Today, Christmas gift ideas are on the minds of even those who do not celebrate the birth of Christ. The exchange of Christmas gifts is a very old tradition that has meshed with other rituals and traditions from cultures past. And, the entire process continues to evolve in our culture today. Retail bottom lines are tied to the mass amount of money that is spent during the holidays and every single year, record numbers of people accumulate excessive debt on credit cards, taking an entire year to pay of the holiday spending spree. And sadly, some of the present exchanging has nothing or little to do with Christ.
Perhaps this year, when exchanging presents under the tree, Christians could remember the ultimate gift given for us through Christ's death. The Bible mandates that we remember Christ's death, the payment for our sins. "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come." (1 Corinthians 11:26) Also, when looking for good Christmas gift ideas, consider giving Christ something special as a family. We can honor his life and death with the giving of our time, heart, life, and resources. Jesus said, "And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand." (John 10:28) With so great a gift given to us, how could we neglect giving to Him in return. For more truth about Christmas gift ideas and giving, visit the links listed above.