I love leading worship on Christmas Eve. I especially love the kids who are so excited it is hard to hear over the noise of the parents hushing them. I try to find a way to include the children in worship. Here is a story I wrote that was a lot of fun. I used puppets and stuffed animals - but you can do without... Enjoy!
Good Evening. It is so great to have you here tonight. You look great in your special Christmas outfits. Are you excited? Me too! I want to tell you a story tonight. But this a story about the animals in the manger where Jesus was born and it is the kind of story where everyone gets to help tell it. It is a story about this sheep – (show puppet of black sheep) – named Sophie. Now- you – the children are going to be sheep – but not just any sheep – you are the beautiful and clean white fuzzy sheep . You don’t like Sophie- so when I tell you- you’ll make the noises of the white sheep and you’ll say. “BaaaaaaaaaD Sheep.” “Baaaaaaaad Sheep.” Ok- give it a try... Now- you’ll get to be the only ones who are the sheep- but I also need you to help out with all of the other groups-
Now- the folks who thought they were safe because they are sitting in the balcony this year- well they are the Shy- yet cranky Barn owls. When I tell them – their part is to say, “ Whoooooooo Cares?” “Whooooo Cares?” Let’s give it a try.....
People in the congregation, you are the cows. You are hard workers – but you also dream of a better life... your line is , “Mooooove over. Moooove over” Shall we give it a try?
And now – the dear choir.... you have a special part. You are the sheepdogs. And you say.. “woof” because, of course, dogs don’t talk. Go ahead now and give me your best bark. - Nice.
Everybody remember their parts? Ok- let’s get to the story...
A Long long time ago, in a little town called Bethlehem there was an odd little barn in the back of an odd little inn. A rather odd collection of animals lived in this barn. There were beautiful white and fuzzy sheep... they thought that they were the best animals in the barn because they got their wool brushed out every week by one of the stable boys. There were a few cows in the barn. And these were nice cows- but they mostly concerned about themselves- being the biggest animals in the barn and all... They rarely interacted with the other animals. They pretty much just stayed in the stable and ate hay and gave milk for the people staying at the inn. And if you looked really hard- you might have seen a small shy old barn owl hanging out in the rafters. The Owl could be kind of snippy. He liked to keep to himself. And on the nights when it got cold- a few of the friendly local local sheepdogs would make their way into the barn to warm up. They were a lot of fun as they played in the barn and wrestled around. There was also – in this odd little stable in Bethlehem behind an odd little inn - one young black sheep named Sadie. Sadie knew she was different from all the other sheep. She knew it because the color of her wool was different than the rest of the sheep. Sadie knew she was different because all of the other sheep made fun of her because she looked so different. One cold December night- the animals in the barn were being very cruel indeed....
“Look at you,” one very mean sheep said, “ you are a mess. You look different from us- and have you noticed that even the sable boy doesn’t like you—he never brushes out you wool... why just look at you – all shaggy like that.... You don’t deserve to be called a sheep... you are nothing but Baaaaaad News” Soon all the other sheep repeated the chant.... “Baaaad news” (invite kids to say their part)
Sadie was heartbroken. Maybe, she thought...she wasn’t really a sheep.... Perhaps she belonged someplace else in the barn. She wandered away from the other sheep and stumbled to the back of the barn where the barn owl had just landed on a pile of hay. Sadie began to cry as she looked at the owl.
“I know I’m not an owl,” she said, “For I haven’t got any wings and I know I can’t fly... I just don’t know where I belong.” And the owl turned his head and looked at Sadie and said, “Whooooooo cares? Whoooo Cares?” (encourage group to say their line) This made Sadie cry even harder.
She wandered over into the stalls where the cows stood chatting about the poor working and living conditions in the stable. They were discussion forming a cow union when Sadie walked up. Sadie thought to herself.... well....my coloring is closer to these animals- with their black spots..... and I have four legs... maybe I would fit in with the cows.... So she scooted under the fence and got herself into the cow enclosure. The cows were startled by Sadie’s entrance. They were put out because their important conversation was interrupted and because Sadie’s presence in the cow pen only served to point out the cramped conditions under which the cows toiled daily. They wanted Sadie to leave. “Moooooove over” the cows spoke harshly to Sadie.. (encourage group to say the line...)
Sadie left the pen with the cows and wandered outside into the dark night.... There was a bright star in the sky right overhead. Sadie had never seen such a bright star before. She thought about going for a walk into the hills but before she could get far- a few of her friends the Sheepdogs came bounding up the hill. The dogs greeted Sadie with energetic barks .... (Encourage Choir...) Sadie looked back from where the dogs had come and she saw that a tired looking man and woman were coming up over the hill. The humans headed into the stable and made themselves at home. Sadie walked back into the stable to figure out what was going on... Soon there was a lot of excitement.. people were coming and going from the stable.... but nobody paid attention to Sadie. Until- she heard a woman’s voice say... “We’ll need some of the warmest wool to line the cradle. Where are all the sheep?”
All of the pretty white sheep were lined up against the wall and the woman walked over to inspect their coats.
“no, no- this won’t do at all.. Someone has brushed them recently - This wool is thinned out already. We need something thick and warm.”
Sadie felt her heart beat faster.... She knew that because the stable boys hadn’t brushed her in a long while that her coat was the thickest and warmest in the barn. Sadie needed to get the woman’s attention so she walked up behind her and said.... “BAAAAAAAAAAAA”
The woman turned around and smiled down at Sophie. “Ah, perfect. How wonderful is our God that He has provided us with this beautiful sheep.” The woman led Sophie away and began to brush her thick coat and gathering the wool. She took Sadie’s wool and lined the bottom of the feeding troth and then – she laid a little baby, who was all wrapped up in a blanket- right on top of the wool.
Sadie walked over to look at the baby and the baby smiled back at Sophie.
Sophie – being a sheep after all- wasn’t really sure what she had done that night- She didn’t know about how God sent Jesus to teach us how God wants us to live. She didn’t know about Mary and Joseph and how they had to stay in her stable because there wasn’t enough room in the inn. Sadie only knew - that she had been able to help. That by being the best sheep she could be- she was the only sheep out of all the sheep in the stable that could help that night. And from that moment on- Sadie began to realize that she was special. – just by being herself..and you know what? All of the other animals in the barn realized it too...
Let us pray:
Dear God, Thank you that you have made us all to be different. That you that each of us has something special to offer your world and we thank you especially, God for the gift of Jesus, born in the manger- who brings us all life. Amen.