As y’all know by now if you’ve been following our blog for very long at all…our church likes to do events + outreaches in a big way. We love being a part of such a big “family” that works hard, laughs hard, and glorifies Jesus together. The Live Animal Christmas Play
is an annual show that our church puts on every December. Two hundred plus members come together to sew, design, build, act, and sing for one reason alone—lifting up the name of Jesus.
Pre-curtain opening…our pastor welcoming everyone to the show!
Mr. Christmas, also giving words of welcome + good tidings, and preparing everyone for the story to come!
The play began with a Jewish family (Hudson + Rebecca as the children, myself as the mother, and a friend of ours as the father) fleeing from Nazi soldiers who were trying to capture them.
The first scene was full of intense moments, high action, and thrilling sound tracks.
Rising from the fog after the soldiers had gone…
…wait! There was one still left!
This one, however, had a kind heart, and gave the Jewish family directions to a safe house, “just beyond the border, into Switzerland”.
Meanwhile, Mr. + Mrs. Detweiler and their sweet family were preparing to celebrate Christmas on their lovely Switzerland farm!
I (Chelsy) was privileged to again have the opportunity to coordinate the outfits for these first scene actors. The time period was little more difficult to authentically put everything together, but the finished product was very worth the extra time! Special thanks goes to the gentlemen who were gracious enough to appear in lederhosen despite their personal preferences. =)
The Jewish family, weary from hardship + travel, arrives at the Detweilers farm.
The Detweilers welcome them with love + holiday cheer!
“Freeze scene”, with a little narration, pulling stories together, by Mr. Christmas.
The little Jewish girl (Rebecca) sang “Somewhere in My Memory”.
Now the play transitioned into the biblical Christmas story-complete with prophets telling of the coming of a Savior, and dozens of angels singing and playing.
Denver, as one of the angels.
Allison once again played the role of a “flying + fiddling” angel.
Back to the Swiss farmhouse…Mr. and Mrs. Detweiler sharing the Christmas story with the Jewish couple…while upstairs the Swiss daughter tucks the Jewish children into bed while telling them the same story.
A young Mary (our Elizabeth) and her parents (that would be ours! =)) on their way to the temple.
Elizabeth sang a beautiful solo called “Here I Am”…
…and then in the middle of the song there was a fade/scene switch in which time skipped and a “grown up Mary” stood up on another stage and finished the song.
This feature was a new addition to the play and added a really neat element.
Mary, getting a little good-natured teasing from her friends, about a certain young carpenter named Joseph…
The angel Gabriel and Mary.
The market scene was better than ever this year. It opened up with Joseph, rejoicing in God’s goodness in bringing him and Mary together.
Trouble arrives with the Roman centurion and his soldiers.
A powerful performance of “Deliver Us”, in which God’s people question why God has forsaken them?
(Josh acted in this scene)
Hope is revived! God has not forsaken them; He is still on the throne and He hears their prayers!
The Pharisees showed up, in all their prideful pomp + glory…
Mary telling Joseph of what the angel Gabriel said to her.
Comic relief, provided via the excellent and somewhat half-witted tax collector crew. =)
The pictures do not do the scene justice but one can imagine!
A squealing pig, laughing women, and two highly offended + indignant gentlemen…
Joseph + Mary, trying to find a place for the Son of God to be born.
“You’re almost there…You’re almost where the waiting ends, delivering the Life within, the answered Prayer, Emmanuel, you’re almost there.”
“All hope is in the Son you’ll bear, you’re almost there.”
(Allison played the innkeeper in this scene. Above picture is her with Mary and Joseph in her stable)
The shepherds, watching their flocks by night…
…when the angel appears, bringing “good tidings of great joy which shall be to ALL PEOPLE!”
“O holy night, the stars are brightly shining…it is the night of our dear SAVIOR’S birth.”
Wisemen coming from the east, bearing gifts…and riding on their very live and very legit camel. =)
Shepherds and wisemen gather to worship the newborn KING!
A secret meeting by night with those of influence…plotting how to gain more power.
And on to Herod’s throne room, where trouble awaited…
The innkeeper (Allison) was beaten and tortured for information about the baby who had been born in her stable.
…..sent to find and kill all the baby boys in the land.
In the dead of night…two young men come to lead Joseph and Mary away to safety.
The guides, discussing the difficulties of the journey ahead and the danger that lurks from the soldiers who have been commanded to “kill every boy child under the age of two”.
(precious expression of this sweet little girl who played baby Jesus in this scene)
Joseph and Mary, preparing to flee to Egypt with their (now slightly older) baby Jesus.
A powerful narration, explaining the following thirty years of the life of Christ…before the crucifixion.
Pilate, trying to silence the angry mob.
(Denver on the left, the servant who pours the water with which Pilate washes his hands)
The mob beating Jesus, before the crucifixion.
The mob, mocking + jeering at the crucifixion.
(Dad is the pharisee on the middle right)
Jesus’ mother + followers, weeping during the crucifixion.
The centurion, recognizing that Jesus was truly the Son of God.
Joseph of Arimathea, coming to bury the body of Jesus in the tomb.
Another new feature was a small mixed choir of angels, singing at the resurrection.
(Denver was in this choir but isn’t pictured)
He is risen!
Mr. Detweiler at the end, completing the narration as he tells the Jewish father of this ultimate sacrifice and gift of salvation.
The Jewish father comes to see his need for Christ and accept Him as Savior.
The show completed with a 100+ voice choir (several shown here; with our mother on the far left) singing “Jesus Saves”.
*We are so thankful for this opportunity to proclaim the goodness of Jesus Christ and the greatest story in all the world! Once again, being involved in this production was such a blessing to our family, and we were greatly encouraged by the opportunity to share HIS LOVE with our community and surrounding towns/states!
Stay tuned for the next post, a “behind-the-scenes” view of our family during the LACP!
“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.”
It was once again so excellent and such a beautiful picture of the body of Christ working together for His glory! (And I love the picture of Liz's solo – that mid-song switch to Katie was so great :))
Wish we could have seen this!! Maybe next year!
The descriptions of this amazing production didn't do it justice! This is just unbelievable and such an obvious coordination of efforts by hundreds of people!
What a ministry to your whole community!
I would love to see this – maybe we can come up for it during next Christmas!
thank you so much for these posts and for sharing your beautiful blessed life with the rest of us!
I have to ask, who approved of this story? Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust because they were Jews (in religion and ethnicity.) The idea of a Jewish family being saved from death by "accepting Jesus as their savior" is EXTREMELY offensive to the memories of Holocaust victims and what they died for. It also recalls an ugly, anti-Semitic history of Jews being forced to convert to Christianity to avoid being murdered. The next time you want to incorporate Jews into your Christmas play, there is a synagogue in Iowa City who would be glad to talk to you and give you ideas on how not to make your story so offensive.
The play script was written by our pastor + a team of several others. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to explain the whole two hour play in this little blog post, so I can see how it would be easy for you to miss the story line since I only highlighted basically the changing of scenes. It is quite difficult to describe the whole story accurately in a post. Everyone that actually comes and sees the play says that the pictures/posts don't do it justice, and I completely agree. The only reason I still post about it is because there are some people who really like seeing the pictures, and we love to post about things going on in our lives. (and the play is a very big part of our family's lives in November/December =))
The point of the story line wasn't putting Jews down or trying to elevate or degrade certain people or religions; it was to emphasize the hope of Christmas + the joy that comes with giving that true message to others, and spreading true peace + love at Christmastime. (and all the time!) Basically this play is the biblical Christmas story. The writing team just brings in a fictional storyline, based on a certain historical time period (different from year to year) to ad interest with costuming and to pull the whole thing together.
Also, the Jews being saved from death didn't have anything to do with them depicted as becoming Christians at the end of the play. That was a completely different part of the story and had nothing to do with their beginning as refugees.
Again, I'm sorry for the misunderstanding—that might not all make sense and it is super hard to properly outline the whole story in a post, or a blog comment. My apologies!
Thanks for your thoughts!
Wow. You managed to be historically inaccurate, anti-Semetic and mind-numbingly boring at the same time. That is quite impressive. I'm glad I didn't have to see it. Please, please, please never mention the existence of this play to any Jewish people, if you even know any. It desecrates the memory of the six million.
Hopefully the above comment will help to clarify.
And no worries on your not wanting to see the play— feel free to skip over reading our December/January blog posts each year and then you won't even have to hear about it! =)
This is extraordinarily offensive. The Jewish people were slaughtered in the Holocaust because they fought to keep their rich culture and religion and refused to convert to Christianity. If you speak to Holocaust survivors, almost universally, their central wish and hope is to preserve the Jewish culture, religion, and people, and they will tell you frankly of the dangers of trying to wipe that out through conversion or through other means. There is a reason that Judaism does not allow intermarriage. To use the Holocaust to make a point about Jews converting to Christianity is beyond comprehension. What you were thinking? What do you really think would happen if a Jewish Holocaust survivor were to watch your play?
So again, big misunderstanding here—we didn't use the Holocaust to make a point about Jews converting to Christianity. That story line wasn't even the point of the play—the point was sharing the Christmas story, and pointing people to Jesus.
With all due respect, I have to tell you that it is impossible for you to understand our hearts or the true heartbeat of the play unless you actually saw it in person. We have had thousands of people of many different religions come to see the play, and we get lots of feedback from these people, and the negative comments given here on this post are the first of this kind that I have heard. The people who saw the play, no matter what their religion, were able to understand the context of the storyline, because they saw the whole thing in its entirety.
I appreciate your concern, but unless you actually saw the play + realize the true story that was portrayed, it will be impossible for you to judge it correctly.
PS to all these comments…=)
One of my siblings reminded me about our policy of not posting negative comments unless there is a name attached. I somehow forgot! Please keep our below policy in mind when you comment.
Also we will be closing this discussion-I think I've answered all the questions and have realized that unless you have seen the play, you are not able to accurately understand how story of the Jews was portrayed. Future discussion is therefore pointless.