By Anne Eickstadt


Zion Lutheran Church on the corner of Sixth and Pearl Streets in Belvidere hosted A Noel Celebration program on Sunday, Dec. 11. Numerous people braved the snowy streets to attend the performances at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

A Noel Celebration was a collaborative cantata which viewed the story of Christmas through the eyes of first-hand witnesses. Each person shared their unique perspective of the miraculous birth of Jesus Christ. A blend of original and familiar carols provided a dramatic sonic backdrop for these inspiring stories.

A beginning song of “Sing Noel!” led the audience into the memories of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist. The narrator spoke as Zechariah remembered the day that an angel appeared to him in the temple sanctuary and told him that he would have a son at his advanced age. Zechariah doubted this and was struck dumb for the months until his son was born.

The next song, “Prepare the Way” told the story of Jesus’ mother, Mary, telling of the angel who came to her saying, “God loves you and you are favored. Don’t be afraid.” She continued with memories of Jesus’ miracles, his teaching and healing people; of being mocked, tortured, and killed. She spoke of Jesus’ incredible love and the power of God.

“Just as Jesus came to me, he comes to you. You are highly favored, do not be afraid.”

“Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming” told of Joseph, husband to Mary, who raised Jesus as his own son. Joseph spoke of how his father taught him to love the smell of fresh wood and the feel of a carpenter’s tool in his hands.

“I did my best. I wasn’t perfect.”

When they visited Jerusalem and found Jesus teaching in the temple at 12-years-old, Joseph remembered, “I had known who he was, but I hadn’t known Who he was. He asked questions I had never thought of and gave answers that healed things in me that had been broken for a very long time.”

“The Manger Carol” preceded a monologue by a shepherd who had seen the angels announcing, “I bring you good news!” He was in one of the groups who had found Jesus lying in a manger.

“I see his hands. They are the hands of a shepherd.”

The “Noel Festival” song led way to priest Simeon. Simeon lived long with the promise that he would see the Savior before he died.

“Everything in me knew the moment I saw Him. This baby was not what I expected. He was more than I expected.”

One of the wise men spoke after another song, “Noel! Christ the Lord is Born.” This man of logic only believed his research and not in religions.

“Until I saw the star – something that made no sense – we finally deduced that it had something to do with an Israeli prophecy.”

They packed for a journey and went to King Herod.

“A grown king was scared.”

Once they found the child of prophecy, “I saw the light, I repented and returned home a new man.”

“What Child is This?” told of a Lay Person, a member of the church who asked, “When did you meet Jesus? He changed the lives of all around him. He changed our lives too.”

“One of our church members passed away a year ago today,” Cantata Director Carleen Courtney said. “His family gave us money to purchase a cantata. We present this moving Christmas Cantata in loving memory of Jerry Eckberg.”

Zion Lutheran Church is located on the corner of Sixth and Pearl Streets. They can be found online at

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