Whether it be caroling with the church choir, baking Christmas cookies for neighbors or making a day of selecting the perfect blue spruce to chop down and decorate, Christmas traditions are an important part of the holiday season for many. Seven years ago, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (Pleasant Valley), Coopersburg, Pa. (firstname.lastname@example.org), started an activity that has become a favorite Christmas tradition among members.
In 2008, Greg Shreaves, then pastor of Trinity, had the idea to have the Sunday school youth decorate the covers of the bulletins to be used for Christmas Eve worship. Jennifer Ritter, who has taught Sunday school at Trinity for “many, many years,” spearheads the majority of these bulletin projects. “The first year I started out very simple, very basic,” she said. “Each kid got a piece of paper, about 1 inch by 2 inches, and drew a picture that reminded them of Christmas.”
Ritter transferred the individual drawings to a piece of paper the size of the bulletin cover and created a collage, including drawings of a manger, angel, cross and Advent wreath. The artwork was a hit at that year’s Christmas Eve service, and the activity has continued since.
In the years following, Ritter often chose designs that were inspired by pictures on Christmas cards that Trinity’s 18 to 20 Sunday school students could re-create. Some of the bulletin covers feature nativity scenes, with each character drawn by a child and then stenciled into the main scene by Ritter using a light box. One year showcases a drawing by an individual child from Trinity. Another year’s cover art features an angel walking through a forest, which was drawn by a youth who was taking art lessons at the time. The other youth drew pictures that added to the wooded scene.
Last year’s covers included three designs that were mosaics of Christmas images: the star of Bethlehem and two depictions of Mary and child. Ritter created outlines of the images and then provided Christmas shopping advertisements for the youth to tear up and glue into the outlines to create the mosaic designs.
“I loved the idea of using the colorful holiday advertising, the commercialism of the season, and ripping it up into pieces to create something representing the true reason for the season,” she said.
Each year’s bulletin cover is proudly displayed on a gallery wall in the church.
“Families are always excited to see what the kids have come up with, and the kids love showing off their artwork to their parents,” Ritter said.
Trinity’s current pastor, Tyler Rasmussen, said the tradition adds a personal touch to Christmas Eve worship: “It starts us off on the right foot even while people are gathering. It shows we’re not just celebrating an event 2,000 years ago, but this is alive for us today.”