Our Christmas Traditions
By Kate Berkey - December 14, 2017
Posted in Adult Ministry, Worship, Let's Give It All Away
Christmas is a wonderful time around NMC. There are a flurry of activities, groups that gather for meals and parties, and ministries that plan special events. Middle School Ministry puts together an ugly Christmas sweater competition. KidMin helps kids make gifts for family members. The entire church collects food boxes and hams for our partners at the Revolution Church in Gary. Small Churches rally behind our other regional partners by collecting gifts for Transformation Ministries’ Christmas Store or by collecting coats and blankets for our partners at the Devon Oasis Center in Chicago.
Even the building itself brings the feeling of Christmas to life after our decorating team finishes their hard work. This team gathers the Monday after Thanksgiving to string lights and hang garland. They pull out Christmas trees from dusty boxes and fluff the branches. Ornaments are hung and nativity scenes are carefully placed on tables. These sometimes unsung heroes take care to turn NMC into a place that celebrates the birth of Christ. We are so grateful for them, for their time and effort, and for the way they point us back to the beauty of Christ through the beauty of decorations.
Christmas at NMC also means traditions. In the Midwest, we greatly value traditions, especially when it comes to spending them with the ones we love. At NMC, traditions are a way of marking time and gathering people together. They are a way of honoring those who have gone before us and a way of carrying on a legacy passed down to us. Every Christmas at NMC, people can expect two traditions in particular: the KidMin Christmas Musical and the Worship Choir Christmas Concert.
The KidMin Christmas Musical
In September, when the leaves are just beginning to change and eventually fall off the trees, kids at NMC have the opportunity to try out for the singing and speaking parts for annual Christmas musical. It’s hard to be in the Christmas spirit when the temperatures still reach 70 degrees and the skies are clear and bright and blue. Even still, these kids practice their songs and rehearse their lines from September until December, preparing for their grand performance in front of family and friends.
This year’s performance took place December 9. Our KidMin crew performed “The Christmas County Spelling Bee,” telling the Christmas story through a spelling competition. It was a night of laughter and joy as kids nailed their lines and sang with all their might. In that one-hour performance, all the months of hard work paid off, and moments were created for kids to step out of their comfort zones and shine in front of the people who love them the most.
One of our favorite parts of the evening happens when the curtain closes and the stage lights are turned off. Families leave the Worship Center and head to the Grand Hall for cookies and hot cocoa. We don’t just love it for the delicious treats. We love to watch families be together. We love to see high-fives and hear words of encouragement. We love to see grandmas hug their grandsons and granddaughters hold on to their grandpas’ hands. We love to see families gather together for a picture in front of the massive Christmas tree our decorating team so carefully assembled. There’s a feeling of belonging created in those moments, which is exactly why the KidMin musical is such a beloved tradition.
Worship Choir Christmas Concert
A week after our kids perform, our adults gear up for their concert. The Christmas concert tradition seems to be as old as the church itself, but in reality, it has been happening for over 33 years. This year, the choir is under a new director, Tonya Cline, and we anticipate it to be just as lovely and wonderful as the last 33.
This year’s performance will include choral pieces, congregational carols, and family vignettes about Christmas. Many unique elements will help create a feeling of connectedness with the ones you love—family or friends. It will include songs like O Holy Night, What Child is This, Away in a Manager, Joy to the World, and so much more.
Perhaps one of the reasons we love the Worship Choir Christmas concert the most is because it helps people, no matter their age, focus on the reason we celebrate Christmas. Songs like Jingle Bells and Rocking Around the Christmas Tree are fun and joyful, but there is something about singing What Child is This that helps us celebrate the beauty and mystery of God becoming human, moving into the neighborhood, and saving us from our sins.
Gather your friends and family and join us this Sunday, December 17. There will be two performances—3:30 and 6 PM. The celebration doesn’t just include music. It also includes delicious cookies, coffee, and wassail in the Grand Hall prior to each performance.
There’s nothing quite like celebrating Christmas as the Body of Christ. As the NMC staff, we want to invite you to celebrate this incredible season with us whether at one of our Christmas events or during our Christmas services on December 24. It’s not just the birth of Christ we get to celebrate, but also God’s faithfulness throughout history.
Merry Christmas from the NMC family.