The Christmas story of the birth of Christ is a familiar one, drawn from Biblical accounts in Luke and Matthew. The drama of this extraordinary event 2,000 years ago was beautifully interpreted by members of Trinity Evangelical Church in Topton on Dec. 13 with Ruth Elaine Schram’s Cantata “The Living Light.”
The simple, rustic manger and stable timbers with a painted starry background, designed by Meghan Smith, stretched across the front of the church, surrounded by tall evergreen trees. Lighted stars shone brightly through the background, pointing the way to the Christ child. The baby was represented by a soft light in the manger, shining through the blanket and swaddling clothes.
Each of the characters - such as the deeply spiritual Mary; protective, loving Joseph; the wondering shepherds; the powerful king and his servants; the innkeeper and his family; the curious local citizen and the gruff Roman soldier - were dressed in Biblical costumes designed and sewn by Jackie O’Neill. Guided by Cast Director Elizabeth Schucker, the characters provided insight as to the various responses and perspectives on the birth of the Christ child. Hearing the inner thoughts of each character brought the event to life, seen through the eyes of often ordinary people who chose to be obedient to God’s calling.
The cantata was introduced by Pastor Scott Staub and Musical Director Steve Schucker. Pianist Suzanne Mabry accompanied the choir, who sang pieces woven throughout the production. Soloist Elizabeth Schucker sang the evocative “I Can See It in Your Eyes” to the Christ child: “Light of the world, you were sent to seal our pardon…”. As part of the climax at the end, soloist Jonathan Quier sang the powerful song “The One True King.” This set up the transition to the choir’s majestic last song, “The Living Light.”
As the characters left the stage area reverently one by one, leaving only the Christ child on stage, the audience saw the baby Christ as God’s gift to the world. They realized that he would not be bound by earthly constraints for long, and that his sacrifice would soon follow. The ending was thoughtful and solemn.
The church was packed with worshippers getting ready for Christmas, grateful for Trinity’s gift of dramatic music that was so meaningful and spiritually uplifting. It was wonderful to see the families sharing this beautiful Cantata production as an entire community.