ORLANDO – David Uth, the senior pastor of First Baptist Orlando, stood on a nearly bare stage, behind him a silver curtain covering up precisely what the huge audience at the church had shown up for. Sensing their anticipation, the pastor smiled, and offered a quiz.
“You’re going to see the trees for the first time, and they are breathtaking in size,” he said. “They are about 40 feet tall.” Then he asked the crowd to guess how many lights it took to illuminate those massive trees.
Each time someone shouted out a number, the pastor smiled again, and hinted they needed to go higher … and higher.
Finally, he admitted the correct number.
“You are about to see 250,000 lights,” he said. “It’s a cool deal. The choir is assembling right now, and we are about to celebrate the joy of Christmas.”
The church at 3000 S. John Young Parkway once again is hosting its very popular annual Christmas concert known as The Singing Christmas Trees, offering a visually unique way of hearing a choir perform holiday classics that range from “Jingle Bells” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” to “Emmanuel” and “How Great Our Joy.”
“Welcome,” the pastor said from the church’s enormous auditorium, “to the joy of Christmas.”
As he exited the stage, the orchestra began to play “The Joy of Christmas Overture,” as colored lights illuminated them. And then, the curtain rose, and two 40-foot Christmas trees, covered brilliantly in multi-colored lights, came to life – but not just from the light show that engulfed both of them. There are 14 rows in each tree, and seated in each row is the chorus of singers, who perform the songs of the season.
Knowing how eagerly the crowd was looking forward to the performance, Pastor Uth took a moment before the show to thank everyone for showing up.
“You could be home watching football or taking a nap,” he said. “But you chose to me here.”
At the same time, the pastor asked the crowd to remember the true meaning of this season, the birth of Jesus the Messiash.
Asking what makes this season special, Pastor Uth asked, “Is it the gifts, the music and the lights? No. It’s the gift of our Lord.”
That’s one of the reasons why First Baptist Orlando sponsors this event, he said, in the hope that those who are still seeking the truth about Christ will be moved by this show to the point of having faith in the one who died on the cross for their sins.
“One of the things we’d love to do for you as a church is pray for you,” he said.
The pastor also used the show to announce that First Baptist Orlando and the cast and crew of Singing Christmas Trees had partnered together to support Crucible Cares, a project that is committed to sending 100 care packages to an Army unit currently serving in Afghanistan. It’s a program sponsored by The Crucible Campaign, which encourages, equips and engages U.S. military personnel and their family members.
“Our goal this year is to send 100 packages to the troops,” said Doug Pierce, who founded this ministry. “We invite you to join us as we try to make an impact in the troops’ lives.”
Through concerts, marriage conferences and special projects, the Crucible Campaign works to address the needs of the service community, which is why First Baptist and the Singing Christmas Trees’ cast and crew is supporting them, Uth said.
“They do a great ministry for the troops serving all over the world,” he said.
The church is also partnering with New Missions, which has served the nation of Haiti since 1983, to feed and educate children and provide them with free medical care.
“You have an opportunity today to sponsor a child from Haiti,” Uth said.
Before he spoke, there were instrumental versions of songs like “Joy To The World” performed on guitar and fiddle, to warm up the crowd. And then came the Singing Christmas Trees.
One of the singers in the chorus is Nick Murdock of Poinciana, who said it’s a joy to participate in this family-friendly show.
“This is my fourth year,” he said. “The auditorium holds 5,000 people, and it’s a great time and it’s exciting for me to be a part of it. It really puts you in the Christmas spirit, that’s what I like about it.”
Singing Christmas Trees continues next weekend, through Dec. 11. To learn more about this show, call 407-425-2555 or log on to Singing Christmas Trees.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.