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Same message, different story for Christian Life Christmas pageant

Christian Life School students rehearse a scene from "Arrest These Merry Gentlemen."

For more than 20 years, the annual Christmas program has been an important part of Christian Life School's holiday season. It's the "shining star" of the season, so to speak.

But for the past eight years or so, that program - which, ultimately centers around Mary, Joseph and the birth of baby Jesus - has been presented nontraditional ways.

Take, for example, this year's program. Titled "Arrest These Merry Gentlemen," it's a Dragnet-themed program that will be presented Thursday in the church sanctuary.

The play only includes the young actors and actresses of grades 1-6 at Christian Life School. The lead character, Joe Sabbath, can't believe an angel would talk to shepherds. He doesn't buy in to the whole three kings seeking a newborn child, following a star. So he investigates the situation by following them. Meanwhile, a reporter called "Scoop" is also tracking the story.

"They all meet up in the manger where Joe Sabbath starts to place all of them," explained music teacher Deneen Coats. "Then he comes to the realization that it did happen, because here (baby Jesus) is, and it all comes back - yes, they did disturb the peace but it was the best peace that ever came.

"It's a little nontraditional, but I typically do not do the traditional. I look for the nontraditional. Here, there's a mix of traditional mixed with some of the new, fresh music. I like to keep them exciting, typically upbeat, and fast-paced."

Students have been working on the production since October, though it's just been the past few weeks they've moved on to props, costumes and a simple set.

Coats also decided to stick with the nontraditional when it came to the K-4 and K-5 music program, also scheduled for Thursday. The program, Hooray for Baby Jesus!, celebrates Christ's birth through some well-known Christmas songs along with a few newer arrangements. For instance, the last song of their performance will be "Jump for Joy."

"It's very cute," Coats said.

Because the Christmas programs have become so very popular at Christian Life School, they are offering two performances, both for Thursday. A matinee is set for 1:30 p.m., and the evening performance begins at 6:30 p.m.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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