We call it a timeless tale. One that withstands the years and the cultural trends. One that needs to be told and retold. For many the Christmas pageant feels like something of another generation. Charlie Brown and his crew had it down, but today? It goes against our modern sensibilities. And yet our hearts yearn to be retold the story.
This is a tradition I married into. A party my husband attended as a child and now we’ve taken our girls to the last 15 years. There are costumes pulled out for this night. Stored away with the holiday decorations, the halos and wisemens’ crowns emerge for one evening a year. For some of us the characters feel familiar: a girl, a donkey, some shepherds and an innkeeper. But for our children, they are hearing the story for the first time. And they are not only hearing it, they are taking on the roles, playing them out.
Let me set the scene. A grown up holiday party. With mini sausages, fancy drinks and depending on the amount of snow on the ground, some ladies even wearing heels. The party goers move into the living room and a bed sheet is lifted to protect the “stage” (aka dining room) from the audience’s view. And then the curtain is drawn and the angels with their crooked halos, face the crowd wide-eyed and sing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. And so the story progresses. That timeless story of a baby arriving. With kids young and old imagining what it felt like to see a star, and then run to see Emmanuel, God with us. There are carols sung by the audience between scenes. Lines are whispered to the actors for them to repeat and lots and lots of pictures are taken.
It’s the telling and retelling of this holy story. It’s not a produced production, but the simple lines from Scripture that remind us that God so loved the world he sent a baby. It’s a story our hearts need to hear every year. And so we tell it to our children and to ourselves through the most imperfect Christmas pageant. But isn’t that just as God would have it? A ragtag group of people retelling how Jesus was born into a brokenhearted world.
“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. ‘Don’t be afraid!’ he said. ‘I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.’”
– Luke 2:8-12
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