The Gift

 

Written by Donna Cuillard
Relief Society Homemaking Meeting Christmas Program
Here is a Christmas Script that I wrote that we used for a Relief Society Christmas activity.
Cost: – nothing
setup: We used the stage and had only a quilt hung in the back. Each of the speakers came from off-stage and were lite with soft, red lighting. The Ward members sat at tables & chairs in the cultural hall.
Each speaker carried a battery-operated candle to read their parts. It was done as a reader’s theatre, so there were no rehearsals and no one had to memorize parts. It could easily be done for this year.
Costumes: We asked the readers to dress in something simple that represented the people they were reading about.

The Gift
Relief Society Homemaking Meeting Christmas Program

Narrator:
INTRODUCTION:

At this sacred season we pause to reflect upon and express our deepest gratitude for the birth, life and resurrection of our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ. From a humble beginning in a manger came the Savior of all mankind. We love Him. We worship Him. He came as a gift of His Eternal Father. The Scriptures bear witness of this most precious of all gifts . . . . “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

We celebrate the Christmas Season with:

Sacred hymns – representing the song of the multitude of heavenly hosts.
Lights – representing the New Star that shone over Bethlehem and He who is the light and life of the world.
The Evergreen tree – with branches turned upward reminding us always to remember Him.

Even the colors of Christmas have sacred meaning: RED – reminding us of His precious blood shed on Calvary for us; GREEN reminding us of the newness of
life we find through repentance and His atoning sacrifice; & WHITE reminding us of His purity;

We celebrate with the giving of gifts in remembrance of the gifts lovingly given so many centuries ago, reminding us of the greatest of all the gifts of God.

Within each gift their rests a portion of the giver. Each gift is carefully chosen, beautifully wrapped and lovingly presented. We remember the gifts of the wise men, tenderly given; the gift of faith given by the Shepherds; the gift of good tidings of great joy given by the Angel, and the gift of love given by Mary & Joseph to the babe lying in the manger.

And we remember the gifts of the Savior. Pres. Howard W. Hunter said, “The Savior gave freely and lovingly and His gifts were of inestimable value. He gave eyes to the blind, ears to the deaf, and legs to the lame; cleanliness to the unclean, wholeness to the infirm and breath to the lifeless. His gifts were opportunity to the downtrodden, freedom to the oppressed, forgiveness to the repentant, hope to the despairing, and light in the darkness. He gave us His love, His service and His life. And most important, He gave us and all mortals resurrection, salvation and eternal life.”

During this sacred season, let us pause to remember not only the giving of gifts, but also the gifts we have received from others. Those who have passed through mortality long before our coming. Whose gentle lives, played out in the humblest of circumstances, somehow touch ours. Whose quiet sacrifices fill our hearts with wonder and thanksgiving. Those who stayed long into the evening of their mortality – whose brow was furrowed, whose bodies were bent and worn, whose hands were wrinkled and rough from a lifetime of labor.

And those who passed from earth in the early morning of life – touching mortality as briefly as a bird pausing in flight, and whose gentle cry came as a whisper upon the wind. Whose tender passing came before their first sunrise, before their first lullaby, before their first smile, cradled lovingly in the arms of grieving mothers.

Across generations they reach out and take our hands, passing to us the light of love and sacrifice. Across the mountains and valleys and meadows of
their homelands they came. Across the great waters they came, leaving behind loved ones, home and heritage. From every corner of the earth they have
come. From countries that no longer exist, speaking languages that fall strangely upon our ears. Arms folded in prayer, heads bowed in reverence, as the wind
filled the billowing sails and carried them slowly onward to their destiny.

Script #1:
The Gifts of the Pilgrims

December 1620: The New Land
It is the month of December in the year of our Lord, on thousand six hundred and twenty. And, the Lord be praised, we have arrived in the New Land. There landed – 100 of us. Many there were who sailed out of port in Holland with their little ones standing on the shore waving the sad farewell. Oh the tears that we shed at that dark and sad parting. “So pitiful was our parting that even the Dutch standing on the shore could not be restrained from weeping.”
Thanks be to our Reverend Elder Brewster who ministered to our needs continually.
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We be not the King’s people, but we be God’s people, pilgrims on the wind. In the year 1609 we sailed from England under the dark of night to find a place in Holland where we could worship freely. Life in Holland was hard and it was the Lord’s plan that we should move on again. We gathered together under the direction of friend & leader, William Bradford. We held two days of fasting and prayer to decide where we should be sailing. Though many destinations were presented, it was the Lord’s Will that we set sail for the Virginia Colonies. Speaking of our journey, William Bradford said, “Oh, that we be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the further most ends of the earth.”
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After a long and difficult voyage – being preserved only by the Hand of the Almighty, we be settled here in Plymouth Colony in the depths of winter. “Being thus passed the vast ocean, we had now no friends to welcome us, nor inns to entertain or refresh our weather-beaten bodies; no houses or much less towns to repair to or to seek relief.” Already many of our number have passed away. “The weak and strong, young and old alike, are taken with the “general sickness” from which few recover. In the three months past dies half our company; the greatest part in the depth of winter, wanting for houses and other comforts, being infected with the scurvy & other diseases, which our long voyage and difficult condition brought upon us. So as there die sometimes 2 or 3 a day; of 100 persons scarce 50 remain; the living scarce able to bury the dead; the well not sufficient to tend the sick; there being in our time of greatest distress but 6 or 7 who spare no pains to help the others;
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There sailed 11 girls on the Mayflower ranging in age from little Humility Cooper under age 1 to Miss Priscilla Mullins, age 17 years. There sailed 18 women with their husbands – nearly all have passed to their great reward. There being among the women a death rate of 72%. Three of our number boarded the Mayflower at least 3 months pregnant.

Of the children we have buried here there be . . . .Mary More age 6, Jasper More, age 7, Ellen More age 8, John Hooke age 14, Joseph Mullins, Solomon Prower, son of Thomas Tinker, first son of John Turner, second son of John Turner & William Butten, the only of our number that dies on the voyage. Even our esteemed governor John Carver and his wife Katherine, both having been called to the Lord. Oh, the weeping that be filling our ears. Praise be to the Lord for our Reverend Elder who be wearing out his life in our service.
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Even though today be the Christmas Time, it not being the Sabbath, we continue to work. We have begun to build on the common house and a platform has been built atop the hill for fortification. Even the sickly work hard on the common house as our individual huts cannot be built until it be finished. The cannon has been brought ashore under the direction of Captain Standish. The men cut and fell the logs, the women who remain, wash and cook and tend the children left motherless. The children be assigned to search the shore for roof thatch. All have their duty as each one be an important part of the whole. Soon the allotments be marked out – the greater families be qualified for the larger lots.
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We still be residing on the Mayflower as she rests on the waves in the harbor. We dig sassafras root & bark and such for medicine and burn juniper branches to help clear the stench now boldly within the ship. Still the storms be upon us, the clouds and ice storms so violent and heavy that we most times cannot see the shore from the deck of the ship. We be iced most of the time.
The waters be continuous troublesome but our little shallop be strong and the Lord doth again deliver us to safe harbor on an incoming tide. For we are His pilgrims, wandering over the face of the earth, being brought to this place for His wise purposes.
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And though our lot be weary and our burying ground be full, still in our hearts burns the message of truth. For we be safe, resting in the shelter of the Lord’s arm. His mantle doth surround us continually. His love doth provide for all our wants and His promise doth fill our souls with the witness of His everlasting truth. He hath brought us on a journey of destiny . . . for He hath called us to settle the New Land.
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Here all be able to worship in peace and safety. Here all men be equal.
We suffer all things that this be a place for the ages. From this small beginning shall spring the everlasting Gospel. From this which we be doing here, generations shall be blessed to live and worship in freedom. Here be the place to raise a family unto the Lord. Here we kneel on the mountain of the Lord and raise His standard for all time. Why be we troubled . . . For at this sacred season our hearts be filled with gratitude . . .
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Blessed are we, for we be filled with the testimony of the risen Lord.
We be on His errand and are His everlasting. And though we lie quietly down into the arms of death, yea, we are blessed. For we be secure in the cause for which we are called – that those who come after us might reap the rich harvest of faith and courage we so gratefully plant this day. Ever our eyes behold the vision of tomorrow. In humility we find our place and be in remembrance of the greatest of all gifts – the gift of eternal life.
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Our Governor William Bradford has said,
“Thus out of small beginnings greater things have been produced by His hand that made all things of nothing . . . and, as one small candle may light a
thousand, so the light here kindled hath shone unto many, yea in some sort to our whole nation.”
And so we hold high the torch, that the light from our simple lives be shining down through time. To those who will come after us we give our gift and
say, “we have done this for thee . . . . with hearts full of gratitude for the great privilege which is ours.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
Hymn #203 – “Angels We have Heard on High”
Script #2
The Gifts of the Patriots

December 25, 1777, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania

The Christmas season is upon us. We are far from our loved ones and the comforts of home. We have been wintered here at Valley Forge only a few days.

A light snow is falling, the wind cuts through to our very bones. Ourclothing is reduced to rags, we have no shoes. The temperature, we are told, is 6 degrees. There are 12,000 of us, men and boys – ranging in age from 12 yrs to men in their 60’s. Only a small handful of the officers’ wives are here to help with cooking and the care of the ill and wounded. We hail from all the colonies, representing each state in the new union. Most of the men have no uniforms. Our supplies & food are meager. We are weary and wounded in body, yet our spirits are strong. For we are united in one great cause – the cause of freedom. Before us multitudes have fought and died in the cause for which we are now engaged.

Our possessions are few – a musket, knapsack, blanket, spoon and plate and a knife. Six to eight men share a canteen. Our field hospital is a crude shelter 15 x 25 feet, where many go and from which few return. We live in huts which foster discomfort and disease. Our skin & eyes are almost spoiled with continual smoke. Disease is rampant.

General Washington reports that nearly 3,000 of us are unfit for duty because of lack of shoes and clothing. That is one man in four. We eat fire cake, a soggy mess of flour and water – we have no salt to cheer us up.
Everywhere we go, our footprints leave blood in the snow. The wind howls continually around us, rain and mud are ever in our path. Death & disease our our constant
companions, ever reminding us of our mortality.

But we do not waiver. We are willing, yea anxious, to give the last full measure of devotion for a cause dearer than life itself. For our cause is just and the Lord is ever at our side. He will strengthen us in our battles, our enemies He will confound. At the hearthstone our wives and children anxiously await our return. Ever their prayers ascend heavenward for our safety.
Generations yet unborn will worship under the warm glow of freedom’s light because of that which we do here.
Even in the darkest hour, even with the battle raging around us, at this sacred season we remember miraculous gifts lovingly given so long ago.

From Mark 4:38-39 we read . . .

And He was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow; and they awake Him, and say unto Him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

And He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still.
And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

Blessed are we, for we hear the whisperings of freedom, riding on the wind and we stand as a beacon of peace even amidst the rising tide of the enemy.
For our God will prevail. We are His. He has given us a sacred charge – we are called to build the new land, to win with our very lives if necessary, freedom for all generations to come.

For all those who will come after us down through time, for all those who will one day pause to celebrate the birth of the babe in the stable long ago, we offer, this day, our gifts in remembrance of Him. Sacred is our privilege, eternal is our cause. On the altar of eternity we lovingly place our gifts of courage, faith and devotion.

We do this, humbly and thankfully, for you . . .

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
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Hymn # 202

“Oh, Come All Ye Faithful”

Script #3

The Gifts of the Pioneers

Nov. 3, 1856 Sweetwater River, Southern Wyoming

Dear ones . . . . it is hard to believe, but the Christmas season will soon be upon us. Not like any we have before experienced – this year we are mindful only of the Lord and His cause.

During our sojourn, we are placed under very trying circumstances; being reduced to very low rations of flour, a scanty supply of clothing and in addition to these evils, it becomes our painful duty to bury very many of our friends and traveling companions. The aged and worn-out seemed to relinquish all their desire for life, passing away like an infant in slumber.

You can imagine between five and six hundred men, women and children, worn down by drawing carts through mud and snow, fainting by the wayside, children crying with cold, their limbs stiffened, their feet bleeding, and some of them bare to the frost. The sight is too much for the stoutest of us, but we go on doing our duty, not doubting, nor despairing. We have prayed without ceasing for the Lord to send a rescue party. Those of us who were unable to walk are crowded into the overloaded wagons, the majority hobbling along behind their carts as best they can. We are starving and freezing. The Sweetwater is full of floating ice, the currents strong, making the crossing dangerous. The stream is treacherous, the water almost waist deep and the river more than a 100 feet wide. We remember that nearly one-sixth of our number have already perished from the effects of crossing the North Platte, just eighteen days before. We cry mightily unto the Lord for help. We have already waded streams, crossed high mountains and pulled our handcarts through heavy sand and mud. We have knelt in prayer on the dry and dusty plains. We have huddled together to find rest from the relentless elements under the stars of heaven.

We have left behind comfortable homes, father, mother, brother and sister, to be where we would hear a Prophet’s voice and live with the Saints in Zion. The journey has brought us untold suffering, agony and death – we are cold all the time. Our daily allowance of flour is three ounces. In an effort to thwart hunger pains, we chew on pieces of rawhide stripped from the wheels of our handcarts. Many have lost all verve and direction. Many simply lie down in the snow, into the arms of death.
And yet, even amidst this unspeakable horror, there is a certain gallantry. There are weakened men who quietly sliced up portions of their rations to give to their wives & children. There are husbands and fathers who have pulled their carts up to the very day they died. There are women who have given birth to their children under the gravest of conditions and there are those, yea, many of us, who have tenderly lain away our their loved ones, wrapped only in torn rags, in the silent snow that surrounds us continually.

And through it all, we are carried onward by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored Gospel. We are going to the Valley of the Saints, where our children and our children’s children, all those who come after us, can worship the Lord, listen to the voice of a Prophet , & receive the saving ordinances of the Holy Temple.

We remember the gifts lovingly given by the Savior so long ago . . . .

for we read in the Scriptures . . from Luke 18:40-43

And when he was come near, he asked him,saying, What wilt thou that I shall do unto thee? And he said, Lord, that I may receive my sight.
And Jesus said unto him, Receive thy sight; thy faith hath saved thee.
And immediately he received his sight.

Blessed are we, for our eyes see the dream beyond the horizon. And to those who will hear of us and worship the risen Lord in all the tomorrows of eternity, for all the Christmases in all the ages to come, we offer our gifts oflove, sacrifice and faith. We do this, willingly and gratefully. . . for you
. . . .

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, amen.
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Hymn #207: It Came Upon the Midnight Clear

The Gifts of the Manger

From the Book of Mormon we read . . .
“I looked and held the . . . city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white. And (the) angel . . said unto me: Behold the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.

And . . I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time . . I beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms and the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea even the Son of the Eternal Father(Nephi abt 600 BC, 1 Nephi 11:13-21)

“But, behold, they did watch steadfastly for that day and that night and that day which should be as one day as if there were no night, that they might know that their faith had not been vain.
Now it came to pass that there was a day set apart by the unbelievers, that all those who believed in those traditions should be put to death except the sign should come to pass, which had been given by Samuel the prophet.
Now it came to pass that when Nephi, the son of Nephi, saw this wickedness of his people his heart was exceedingly sorrowful.
And it came to pass that he went out and bowed himself down upon the earth, and cried mightily to his God in behalf of his people, yea, those who were about to be destroyed because of their faith in the tradition of their fathers.
And it came to pass that he cried mightily unto the Lord all that day; and behold, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying:
Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I unto the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets.
And it came to pass that the words which came unto Nephi were fulfilled, according as they had been spoken; for behold, at the going down of the sun there was no darkness;
And it came to pass, yea, all things, every whit, according to the words of the prophets.
And it came to pass also that a new star did appear, according to the word.

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And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. And all went to be taxed, every
one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem . . .
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them; and they were sore afraid
And the angel said unto them, “Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And whey they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But, Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

~ Luke 2:1-19
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“Mary’s Lullaby” – Soloist
“Away in the Manger” – 6 yr old Primary Class – first verse – Relief Society
sisters join in the remaining verses.

All in the cast come on the stage and sing the first verse of “Silent Night”.

Young Women present gifts to sisters.
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All join together in singing all verses of “Silent Night”