Telling the first Christmas story

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 29, 2005

UPPER TOWNSHIP — It has been passed down through the ages: The account of the birth of a child in Bethlehem 2,000 years ago, born to a Godly Jewish girl. A baby who was both God and man, good shepherd and Savior.

Students at the Sugar Creek Christian Academy told that story again Tuesday in the school’s first Christmas program since opening its doors in August. The Rev. Mike Long, the school’s principal and pastor of Sugar Creek Baptist Church, said the emphasis of the program was exactly where it should be this time of year: On the birth of Jesus Christ.

“We’ve been trying to instill in them that this time of year, if we are not going to celebrate Jesus Christ, what do we have to celebrate? Without Jesus Christ in our lives, nothing else means anything.”

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The message was not lost on the children, whose play centered on the second chapter of the gospel of Luke.

“I learned that Jesus is the reason for the season,” Alex Littlejohn said of the Christmas program.

The 12-year-old sang “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” as part of the program.

“It’s all about Jesus and it shouldn’t be just about presents,” 12-year-old Chelsea Hall replied when asked what the Christmas season meant to her.

“It’s not about getting presents or about Santa Claus,” her 10-year-old brother, Trent, agreed. The Hall children were narrators for the play.

Lois Adkins’ son, Isaac, was also in the Christmas program. Lois was among the family members who gathered to watch the students’ performance. Adkins said her son has noticed the difference between secular schools and the Christian academy — and that difference is obvious this time of year.

“He said the other day, ‘I’m glad I’m going to a school where they tell the story of what Christmas is really all about,’” Lois recalled.

Travis Dudding, who is 10 years old, said his favorite part of the Christmas story was when Mary and Joseph were turned away from the inn and had to seek accommodations in the stable with the animals, which is where Jesus was born.

Brad Pierce, who is also 10 years old, said his favorite part of the Christmas story is when Mary picks of her new baby and lays him in a manger.

What might have gone through the young mother’s mind as she watches over her child, keeping in mind the message of the angel Gabriel?

“She probably thought, ‘Wow, I’m the mother of the Messiah,’” Pierce replied.

Stephanie Hieronimus, who teaches the younger children at the school, said the Sugar Creek students have been practicing for approximately a month.

Throughout the practices, she said the adults emphasized to the children “how Jesus Christ came into the world to be our savior and to save us from our sins,” she said. “I think they understand it well.

Robert Oliver watched as his 5-year-old daughter, Chyna Abrams, played the part of an angel.

“I thought it was awesome,” he said. “It was probably the best little play I’ve sever seen.”