Students celebrate Christmas in scripture and song
Ka Hee Krause, 10, and her brother, Kei Woon,12, perform during the Christmas Pageant at Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 21, 2013 2:44PM
MORTON GROVE — ’Tis the season for giving thanks, gifts and — for Christians around the world — praise.
Local youngsters looking forward to Dec. 25 are just as excited about commemorating the arrival of a special baby boy as they are the jolly white-bearded man in red.
“My favorite thing about Christmas is hearing about Jesus,” said Joseph Georgian, 5, of Morton Grove.
Makhi Francis, 6, of Niles, echoed his pal’s sentiment, adding: “And toys.”
Anticipation of the religious holiday began to mount weeks, if not months, in advance. Jerusalem Lutheran School in Morton Grove had been preparing a pre-Christmas celebration since early November.
On Dec. 16 over 100 preschool through eighth-grade students led an afternoon service at the Evangelical church to honor “the birthday of a very special person,” said Principal Michael Naumann, who doubles as a third- through fifth-grade teacher.
Children retold the story of Jesus through scripture recitations and songs. A handful of junior high students, nestled between two Christmas trees on the altar, played handbells.
The church’s teen choir performed the traditional Irish song “Wexford Carol,” while the youngest carolers sang “Away in a Manger.” The musical service concluded with children and the congregation holding candles and singing “Silent Night.”
Tony Iusco, 12, of Chicago has participated in the school’s holiday program for the past two years. He said he enjoys spending Christmas sharing the gospel and gathering with family.
So, too, do seventh-graders Amelia Grosse of Skokie and Christina Covaci of Niles.
“I like just spreading the word about Jesus,” Grosse, 12, said. She added that her family sings tunes together for the holiday. Covaci’s family takes time to discuss Jesus’ birth.
“(Children) can also spread the message that Jesus is their savior,” said music director and first- and second-grade teacher Dina Naumann. “That, of course, is what Christmas is all about: his coming to Earth.”
She and her husband, Michael, have organized the holiday program with the help of other school staff for the past dozen years. Scripture readings determine the musical lineup, Dina said.
Teachers lend their talent at the pre-Christmas service, too. On Sunday kindergarten teacher Julie Epple played the flute.
“It’s really very special,” she said. “It’s a great way to celebrate Christmas and remind the kids it’s about Jesus’ birthday, not Santa.”
In addition to daily Bible readings, students in Epple’s class are partaking in other holiday traditions this month, such as baking gingerbread cookies and creating gifts for their parents. Junior high students are helping the youngsters decorate ornaments, and the children spend time in class singing fun holiday tunes.
As Epple explained, “Christmas isn’t quite the same if you don’t sing ‘Jingle Bells,’ especially for kids.”