December may have only been two days old, but the nearly 300 people who filled ShoreLife Church's sanctuary Sunday evening were reminded why the church celebrates the Christmas season.
The message wasn't delivered by the pastor but by 34 children, ages 3 to 10, during the church's annual Christmas pageant. The production turned 10 years old Sunday and was directed by ShoreLife Children's Ministry Director Emily Frey, who's been there for the whole run.
"I have been working with the Christmas pageant for all 10 years, every year it's been around," said Frey, who was directing the performance for the fourth year in a row. "I was a volunteer before I was hired on as staff."
Rehearsals for the pageant, which included acting, singing and a bell choir, began in October with Frey adding a new aspect to the show this year.
In previous years, ShoreLife's pageant was a nativity — telling the story of Jesus' birth and how his parents, Mary and Joseph, traveled to Bethlehem, where he was born in a barn. On top of that, Frey added a depiction of a modern family that's more focused on the materialism that can come with the holiday, instead of what the season is all about, she said.
While the pageant has hit 10 years and has been updated this year, the moral of the story was the same it's always been over the past decade.
"The overall message was refocusing the whole meaning of Christmas, from what we generally think is the main point of gifts and materialism, and focusing on the best gift of all, and that's the birth of Jesus Christ," Frey said.
Emily Lemonnier, who was the narrator and mom of the modern family in the pageant, said the show is a good reminder to her during Christmas.
"It's important to remember Christmas is about Jesus and not presents," said Emily, an 8-year-old.
Brandon Bellino, who played a shepherd in this, his fourth year in the play, knew there'd be some nerves come Sunday, but he knew just what to do.
"I do get nervous," said Brandon, a 9-year-old Hopeview Elementary School student, "but when that happens, I just pray and God helps me."