By Jeff Sadler
Lights shined off my eyes as my pupils dilated at them chasing each other, dancing and radiating throughout the sanctuary with such an amazing glow. And those puppets to start the whole thing off: you bet I was at the edge of my seat.
I have been raised in Liberal, KS for much of my life; and every year of my youth, First Baptist Church held The Living Christmas Tree. Of course, I kind of had to attend because my parents’ participated in the choir that followed the puppets. As a child, the Christmas Tree was fun and memorable event for every Christmas.
25 Christmas Trees later, I stood on a completely different side of the spectrum. In 2009, I had an opportunity that was completely life-changing. There I was, Jeff Sadler, directing my very first big event. When the rehearsals began, you can bet and you would be right, I was scared. In fact, through the passing months, I found myself hesitant at each and every step the Living Christmas Tree required.
But there was that small voice in my head that to me was very huge: “If this is God’s will, then He will take it and He will prevail with it.” Every moment I had to remind myself and continually pray to God, “I do not know exactly what I’m doing. Let every part of this be Yours.”
The members of the Living Christmas Tree Choir consist of people from all over the community. It is a great opportunity for our different denominations to come together as one choir, one voice for God. When we open our doors to each other, we see how greater our family of brothers and sisters is. And the choir is a family. Every rehearsal night, we have a good time with laughter, sharing, and singing.
Music is my life and I truly believe it has a way of communicating and connecting. The very last rehearsal night – the night before the premiere- our bond was so great. It was our duty to invite the Holy Spirit to dwell amongst the walls and halls of First Baptist Church so that He may work and to remember that without God, the Living Christmas Tree would be nothing and mean nothing. That night, it occurred to me just how tight this choir was, and as tired as I was from late nights, it was hard for me to realize that soon it would be over. God moved in mighty ways in 2009, in the hearts of the choir, in my heart, and in the community.
And here we are facing another year and another Living Christmas Tree. I am so excited to watch God move this year. We have come together beginning in August with some new faces and some returning faces. I pray that God will take His hand and direct this choir; it is not my own. Every Wednesday night has been a blessing. I have yet to find a rehearsal where I haven’t been uplifted. How exciting for a group of people to come together and sing praises to God who came to earth in flesh just like our own. And as we remember His birth, we are blessed that He remembers us.
This year, Living Christmas Tree #26 carries the theme, “The Christmas Star”. Each song is beautiful in reminding us all why we celebrate Christmas.
The Living Christmas Tree is just that: it consists of 20 to 30 choir members; all at their stations within the tree. But the choir is only part of the work. An estimated 75 to 100 other people have provided manpower and work behind the scenes so that it will go off without a hitch.
Storing a 25 foot tall Christmas tree is no small matter either. We have been using the same tree for all 26 years. Not to mention, the some 1,000 lights on the tree. Since Kansas is not blessed with trees, the tree was originally ordered from a manufacturer in Denton, Texas.
. New for this year, our youth drama team will be sharing dramatic presentations during the evening and we will have a live band for the music. A puppet skit will also be presented for young and old alike.
While the Living Christmas Tree is our gift to Liberal, we have visitors from throughout Southwest Kansas as well as our neighboring states.
The Living Christmas Tree is hosted at First Baptist Church, Liberal, KS. and we will have free tickets available soon so please call or stop by at 204 N Sherman, Liberal, KS 67901 or call (620) 629 – 3286 to reserve your tickets. We will provide 500 tickets to each performance, and there usually isn’t a seat left in the hours, so order yours early. Performance dates are December 17th and 18th at 7:00pm and December 19th at 10:40am.