Each year Old World Village plays host to the International Celebration of Christmas, a celebration that brings together a diverse group of churches, singers & dancers for a celebration that highlights the true meaning of the holiday season.
During the Christmas season of 1633, a man traveled to a town nestled in the mountains of Bavarian, Germany called Oberammergau and accidentally brought the bubonic plague with him. The man died from the plague and it began spreading throughout the town. The inhabitants of Oberammergau vowed that if God spared them from the plague ravaging the region, they would produce a passion play thereafter for all time depicting the life and death of Jesus. After the vow was made, not another inhabitant of the town died from the plague. The play is now performed every ten years in Oberammergau. It involves over 2000 actors, singers, instrumentalists and technicians, all residents of the village. The next play will take place in 2020.
As the Old World Village continues to perform the Nativity Play every year, our hope is that our coming together to honor the birth of Jesus, can likewise be a blessing to our city and our nation.
The audience was immediately drawn into the holiday spirit with the magical sounds of Christmas carols performed by a hand bell choir, “Beach City Bells”, from the Newport Beach Stake of the LDS Church.
Following, we experienced a Latin American Tradition named “La Posada” (Spanish for “The Inns”) with guitar music and vocalists from St. Jude Thaddeus Old Catholic Church, pastored by Father Ricardo E. Aguilar.
Proceeding with the “Lighting of the Advent Wreath”, Rev. Kristina Hine of the Old World Community Church explained the significance of this German, Austrian and Swiss tradition: each week one candle is lit for the 4 weeks of the Christmas season. She also explained that many famous Christmas traditions and songs are from Germany, such as the “Christmas tree,” “St. Nicholas (Santa Claus),” and “Silent Night”.
John Culpepper from Holy St Andrews MBC sings a great solo and Father Ricardo E. Aguilar of St. Jude Thaddeus Old Catholic Church, offers a traditional "La Posada" as part of the International celebration of Christmas.
As the Nativity Play commenced, thirty angels from Greater Grace Church of Deliverance, Joshua Angel Ministries, The Threshing Floor and the Unification Church entered exuberantly singing “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” so beautifully that it brought tears of joy to many. We watched as Mary and Joseph experienced hardships in finding a place for Mary to give birth and subsequently as the shepherds searched for the Holy Child. Majestic Kings entered to melodic stains of “We Three Kings” and Korean Folk dancers performed to “Joy to the World.”
The entire play was narrated by Dr. Nicholas Benson, Academic Dean of “Christian Promise University.” With his charming accent and baritone voice, he truly created the ambiance of being snuggled warmly in a cabin somewhere covered with snow and listening attentively to the re-telling of this timeless message of hope.
Keith Williams of Sadoc Christian Church, and dancers from the Korean Language school provide us with beautiful performances as part of the International celebration of Christmas.
As the Nativity Play portion of the program concluded, a fast moving and uplifting “Chanukah Dance” was performed by dancers from the Temple Aviv Judea/Messianic Congregation. Marianne Wegener, dance coordinator, explained the meaning of Chanukah (the Festival of Lights) which was the holiday that Jesus (Yeshua) celebrated. The audience clapped enthusiastically to the very festive music.
Marianne Wegener and dancers from the Temple Aviv Judea /Messianic Congregation provide an uplifting “Chanukah Dance” Thirty angels from Greater Grace Church of Deliverance, Joshua Angel Ministries, The Threshing Floor & the Unification Church sing beautifully
We then experienced the Christmas customs of the Samoan Islands, performed by the Westminster Samoan Assembly of God which is pastored by Rev. Fatuiese Savusa. We learned that if Jesus had been born in Samoa, there wouldn’t have been “Wise men” but rather “Wise women” who would have given Jesus the gold, frankincense and myrrh. The women showed us the traditional Samoan way of serving the King of Kings.
Next, Mrs. Cao, the wife of Rev. Moses Cao of the Vietnamese Assembly of God sang “Glory to God” in Vietnamese accompanied by a beautiful dance ensemble of Vietnamese fan dancers.
Next, entered a vibrant and wonderful Kenyan Dance Troupe led and accompanied vocally by Martha Semeiyan of the Lifeline Community Fellowship.
Mrs. Cao, the wife of Rev. Moses Cao of the Vietnamese Assembly of God sang “Glory to God” in Vietnamese accompanied by a beautiful dance ensemble of Vietnamese fan dancers. Martha Semeiyan of the Lifeline Community Fellowship led a vibrant and wonderful Kenyan Dance Troupe
Chief Two Bears and White Swan Two Bears from the Native American Leadership Alliance, both born on Indian reservations in North Dakota, explained how they celebrated Christ’s coming after they were introduced to Christianity.
Central to the program, Rev. Bobby Schuller of The Tree of Life Community reminded everyone in a message entitled “Simeon’s Christmas” of the importance of this sacred holiday which celebrates the coming of Jesus and yet how quickly we are jaded through commercials and television which can transform the holiday into just a material holiday involving Santa. Bobby reminded us, “Often we are more excited about the gifts we are giving and receiving. Let’s not lose sight of what the true meaning of Christmas really is and try to teach that to the younger generations to come.”
As the program drew to a close, we heard “Silent Night” sung in over 9 different languages and concluded the evening with a beautiful song “Where Peace Begins”.
This beautiful event is possible due to the hard work of many, many volunteers and thanks to Susan Munsell, Production Manager of the International Celebration of Christmas/ Nativity Play and Co-Chair of the Southern Cal American Clergy Leadership Conference. Because of their continual investment, we can celebrate Christmas together at the Old World Village in this meaningful way. Please join us in on December 18th, 2016 at 6pm for the 16th Annual Live Nativity Play
Participating organizations: Greater Grace Church of Deliverance, Holy Saint Andrews MBC, Joshua Angel Ministries, KEA Korean Language School, LDS Church/Newport Beach Stake, Life Line Community Church, Native American Leadership Alliance, Old World German Community Church, Sadoc Christian Church, Samoan Assembly of God of Westminster, St. Jude Thaddeus Old Catholic Church, Summit Evangelical Church of Pasadena, Temple Aviv Judea, Tree of Life Community, The Threshing Floor, Unification Church and Vietnamese Fellowship of the Assemblies of God