The sanctuary was dark. The Christmas tree in the center of the stage was lit with soft yellow lights. A choir of about 150 teenagers stood in the tree, which was about ten levels tall. The soloist at the top of the tree started to sing "Mary, Did You Know?". Junior high students dressed in robes like they would have had in Jesus' day, started to walk slowly from the outskirts of the sanctuary inward, all heading toward the stage. They all carried lit candles, and knelt around the tree. I was one of them.
Every year from junior high through high school, I had the chance to be in our church's Christmas pageant. It was more like a production. Three choirs of different ages participated, along with the orchestra and hundreds of volunteers. It was the Singing Christmas Tree, held for a week, with thousands of people coming to celebrate Christ and hear the story of Christmas. Some years we sang with puppets in the tree. Other years we wore red coats and were toy soldiers. Every year had a story line of someone who needed Christ, heard the gospel message, and prayed to receive Him. After that, the tree was lit for the first time as the choirs sang the Hallelujah Chorus. The audience always stood.
I won't ever forget those Christmas memories - the hustle and bustle of volunteers backstage, hearing my friends sing solos, and the joy of being a part of something that centered on Christ and His birth. One of the scenes that I treasure the most is kneeling in front of the tree, holding that candle, singing "Mary, Did You Know?" and wondering just how much she knew about the baby in her arms.
The great I Am who had walked where angels had trod in heaven, chose to come to earth and walk among men. He set aside His glory to become one of us, enduring our trials and refusing temptations. He healed, preached, taught, and loved. Because He came, we know more about the Father, more about what life can be like with God. Because He came, we have hope. We have light. We have love.