Word, music & candlelight: Sibley processional event aims to give meaning to seasonSIBLEY, Iowa — Just a few weeks ago, Tim Nobles and his family viewed the Candlelight Processional at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Fla. It wasn’t their first time — the Nobles have made the event a family holiday tradition since 1998.
By: Beth Rickers, Worthington Daily Globe
SIBLEY, Iowa — Just a few weeks ago, Tim Nobles and his family viewed the Candlelight Processional at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Fla. It wasn’t their first time — the Nobles have made the event a family holiday tradition since 1998.
This year, they heard Michael W. Smith, contemporary Christian recording artist, narrate the presentation of the Christmas story through music and Gospel readings. In previous years, they’ve listened to Steven Curtis Chapman, Phylicia Rashad, Marlee Matlin, Louis Gossett Jr. and John O’Hurley (Peterman from ‘Seinfeld’) to name a few, relate the story of the first Christmas.
“It’s traditional Christmas carols arranged in a contemporary style, with the Christmas story from the Book of Luke woven between the songs,” explained Nobles, an investment advisor who directs his church choir.
With the Disney presentation still fresh in his mind, Nobles is leading an effort to bring a similar program to northwest Iowa. Nobles is directing the mass choir for the Candlelight Processional, a fundraiser for ATLAS of Osceola County, which will be presented Sunday in Sibley.
“When you think of the commercialization of Christmas, then you start thinking about Disney, which is big entertainment that focuses on a humanistic approach — if you wish it, it can happen — this thing sticks out like it’s way out of place in the midst of all this materialistic kind of stuff,” described Nobles about the Disney event. “The message of Christmas comes through loud and clear. In the audience, while the readings are going on, you’re hearing audible ‘Amens,’ people clapping, standing for the ‘Hallelujah Chorus,’ like you’re in a church service.
“It just really struck me how powerful the true Christmas message is. The first time I saw it, I thought I’d like to bring this to northwest Iowa sometime, and that’s been sticking in the recesses of my mind.”
When Nobles was broached about doing a fundraiser for ATLAS — a community-based, non-denominational ministry that helps people in need — he thought the Candlelight Processional would be a good fit.
“I said I would be willing to consider it, but I would like to make it a community event, not something just with our church choir, and so what we ended up doing was working through the ministerial association, working with all the church choirs and inviting people who might not be part of a church choir and high-schoolers to join us.”
The mass choir had its first rehearsal on Saturday, with the second scheduled for the day before the performance.
“The final group looks to be 50 to 60 singers from four different denominations as well as a few others,” Nobles said. “They range in age from 13 to 87, so it’s intergenerational as well. I love that aspect of it.”
Among the well-known tunes that will be featured are “O Come All Ye Faithful,” “O Holy Night,” “What Child Is This?” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” “Silent Night,” “Joy to the World” and Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” The arrangement is by Derric Johnson and Ted Ricketts.
The program will be quite true to the Disney version, which was conceived in 1958 by Walt Disney himself, when he remarked that Christmas carolers were needed at Disneyland. A 1,000-member choir was formed, and the Candlelight processional is in its 41st year, now performed at both Disneyland and DisneyWorld’s EPCOT center from Thanksgiving through the Christmas season.
“The only thing we’re missing is the Disney Orchestra,” said Nobles, who estimates it will last about one hour. “It will flow just like the Disney presentation of it.”
Filling the role of narrator will be Clark Haken, director of ATLAS of Osceola County, who looks forward to the opportunity to share the Christmas story and bring awareness to ATLAS. ATLAS is an acronym for Attaining Truth, Love and Self-Control. Its ministry is supported through local churches and donations.
“ATLAS is a safe, confidential place to come when life seems rough and you don’t know where to turn,” explained Haken. “To put it simply, we are here to help people struggling down a rough-stretch of their road. Whether it be emotionally, spiritually, relationally or financially, it’s our mission to guide and restore people’s quality of life.
“We are excited to find ways to touch lives for Christ in this community — our local mission field,” he continued. “We strive to listen, encourage and pray with folks who come through our door. We can also provide avenues of healing and make referrals that will help people achieve a more abundant life. It’s our privilege to love each person, to guide them in the right direction and walk with them on their journey — regardless of the distance. We let them know they matter. They matter to Jesus and they matter to us.”
Nobles and Haken both hope the Candlelight Processional will help people remember the true meaning of the Christmas season.
“I think it’s a perfect event for Christmas, not only the message and ministry of it, but to allow people to get into the true spirit of Christmas and to see that people of the community are willing to give of their talent and time and also share some of what they’ve been blessed with with those who are needy,” Nobles said.
“Tim and I share a common love and hope for the people of Sibley and our surrounding communities,” added Haken. “The collaborative large-group effort resulting in Sunday’s presentation proves there are plenty of others who care about our community and understand what we do at ATLAS. Their participation is affirmation for our staff and board of directors. I can’t thank everyone enough for joining hands with us. When we — the community — come together using our gifts and talents, God works to accomplish great things.”
The Sibley Candlelight Processional will be presented at 2 p.m. Sunday in the Sibley-Ocheyedan High School Auditorium in Sibley. Free-will donations for ATLAS of Osceola County will be taken. Refreshments and fellowship will follow the presentation.