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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The Ultimate Giving Experience

 The Ultimate Giving Experience
 
 
When you are on your way to any location, you never know what’s in store for you. To be a part of "The Ultimate Giving Experience", I recommend you head to Bellevue Baptist Church for the 39th Annual Singing Christmas Tree, 1941: A Christmas in Memphis. This play will be the third musical in the Singing Christmas Tree (SCT) trilogy, which includes Christmas plays from the last two years (and are available for purchase).

Once arriving, enter through the West Entrance, where you can purchase your ticket. More than likely, your eyes will be drawn to a Christmas tree about ten feet tall and a 1940’s era automobile that takes you back 73 years. As I approached the customer service line, a man approached customers with three tickets. Once I requested the interest to purchase one ticket, the friendly women called the
Miriam Gossett
usher back to give me a ticket that was donated by a kind donor.

During the introductory greeting from the Minister of Music, Mark Blair, the audience learned that this is the first time the Singing Christmas Tree has been written to take place in Memphis, TN and there are more than 800 people involved in the production (500 of them being students, high school aged and younger).

The show opens, music begins, and the first character you meet is sweet and passionate, Maggie McPherson (played by Trisha Huntley) from Ireland, at the New York Harbor, overjoyed to travel to Memphis and call it her new home. The curtain drops with a bang, and visible is what we have all been waiting for, the 44 foot Christmas tree, with its 100,000+ lights that can hold over 100 people. The crowd goes wild for its radiant and dazzling designs and patterns.

As time progresses we meet, dedicated and loving, Jacob Rogen (played by Jonathan Schmidt), a single father of 5 who prays with his teenagers every night and whose main priority is for Jesus to be the head of the home. The many different personalities of Jacob’s children liven the set on a personal level. Even with the time difference of seventy plus years, it seems as if the Rogens are in your living room playfully bickering over the radio, cracking jokes on each other, seeking relationship advice from Father and one another.

As the scenes proceed, everyone is excited for Christmas! There is ballroom and western/square dancing, and occasions where there were over 100 performers on the stage. Due to celebrating the Musical city of Memphis, with the different themed music,  the costumes ranged from poodle skirts, cowboy boots, ballgowns and Bugle boy soldier attire. Many local references were made such as the Peabody, and of course Elvis Presley (which brings a pleasant surprise to the show). There were also flying monkeys, bears, and reindeers, giant puppets and live animals.

Tragically, it is December 1941.... and the bombing of Pearl Harbor occurs. Peter Rogen states that "He needs an angel" and helps his children understand the horror of the situation by saying; "No one wins in a war". To brighten the moment quickly Peter leads by stating, "Let's go to Bellevue", and we are immediately in for a special treat. Dr. Robert G. Lee, the pastor at the time, begins his sermon with his thick accent and assuredness in the Lord, "We woke up in confidence that today would be the same as tomorrow. But know that Jesus Christ is the same”. We are again reminded that we can still have joy, no matter what happens and the story of the best gift given to earth, Jesus, is told.

The actors are given a break and Bellevue's Pastor Bro. Steve Gaines gives everyone a moment to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior or recommit their life because we have all sinned. And then magic happens, the community still has the joy of Christmas, Peter Rogen is given his angel, the family receives some good news from the war, friendships are made and we are reminded that even through life's challenges there is always hope and God will never forget us.

The script has many lessons such as being patient and waiting on God, and being angry with God is even mentioned, with a reminder that God cares about our dreams because we are his children.

During this season, friends, let us remember that it isn't all about us, but about a perfect God who sent and gave us His perfect son, Jesus, so that we could be redeemed. And that my friend, is the ultimate gift. We give because we love. We are full of love, because of our Savior. And we must also share His story to those that need to hear.

I received a full giving experience on my night of attending the Singing Christmas Tree: I was given a ticket, a backstage tour, the opportunity to speak with prominent members of the show, and even as I was leaving an 18 year old young lady chased me, believe it or not, to give me a gift card. It was totally out of the blue. I tried to refuse the gift but she said she wanted to give more during the season. That totally touched my heart and we can all learn something from her. I pray that you will be encouraged during this cold season, to still give if you can, because he gave and still gives. 

With this being the 39th Annual Singing Christmas Tree, I look forward to seeing the 40th Anniversary edition next year and hope you can join me.

Bellevue's Singing Christmas Tree

Remaining Performances
Thursday December 17 and Friday December 18 at 7pm

Ticket Information

Price Range

$5, $8, $14 and $20

Internet
bellevuesingingtree.org
MasterCard or Visa | Select your seat. Print your tickets.

Phone
(901) 347-5500
MasterCard or Visa | $1 shipping/handling fee per order

Information Center
Located in the West Lobby at Bellevue Appling
Monday–Friday I 8:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m.
Sundays and Wednesdays I before and after each service

Childcare
Ages birth–3 years
$6 for one child, $10 family maximum Reservations can be made when purchasing tickets. There are no refunds on childcare.

Wheelchair Seating
Because all aisles must be kept clear, special seating areas have been designated for wheelchairs. To purchase tickets for wheelchair seating, please call (901) 347-5500 or come by the Information Center.

Bellevue Baptist Church

2000 Appling Rd

Cordova, TN 38016

901 347-2000

The show is broadcast live during the performances at Bellevue.org
It will also air on WMC-TV Channel 5 on December 25 at noon.

Behind the Scenes, A little Deeper
 
After the show, once introducing myself to the Lighting Director, Ron Robertson, I was given extreme hospitality and the opportunity to meet the Assistant Technical Director/Front House Audio, Kevin Britt who gave me a backstage tour.

A Snippet from the Stage Manager/Backstage Coordinator, Sandra Dyer

Ms. Dyer advised that she and her husband are both involved in youth ministry at the church. Rehearsals for the youth  involved in the production began in September and they met on every Sunday. I asked her how she manages her personal life with rehearsals and other SCT related events, she answered this is her life!

Sitting in the audience, it was evident that all of the cast and production members represent Jesus Christ with excellence through their performances.

 Here are just some photos of the experience enjoy.

Candid Shots at the Singing Christmas Tree