The Wise Men bring him a ham, instead of the usual precious gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
I sit in the audience of the play called “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” (based on a book by the same name). It is full of hearty laughs, and at the end, I can’t help it– tears fill my eyes.
Because it isn’t the usual ending and it isn’t the usual way of doing a Christmas pageant.
A group of kids– the Herdmans, the roughest kids in town, who’ve never gone to church until the pageant rehearsals begin– end up taking the lead roles in the Christmas pageant, creating havoc and resulting in the most unusual Christmas pageant ever.
The Herdmans are surprised there is no Herod (he’s the main villain, after all), and want to go after him, since he wants to kill the baby Jesus. The Wise guys (Wise men) end up staying after Jesus is born and sharing cigars (fake, of course) with Joseph; Mary wears huge earrings; the Angel of the Lord bosses the Shepherds around; the Wise Men bring a ham as a gift (instead of the gold, frankincense and myrrh) and Mary walks in pregnant and pulls the baby out from under her shirt when she gets to the stable.
Like I said– not your usual Christmas pageant!
It is hysterical– and full of generous laughter.
But the show is also about change; how the girl playing Mary changes– to understand that this baby doll she is holding represents Jesus. It’s about the neighborhood and church kids, who understand that the gospel can change anyone– even the roughest kids. It’s about the adults in the church, who are frantic about what is going to really happen in the pageant– but who witness a change in the kids and experience one in themselves, as they watch the drama unfold and see how the Herdmans are affected by this story. It is, after all, the first time the Herdmans ever hear the Christmas story and come to church– to participate in the pageant (and they first come to church because they heard there was some free dessert).
It all brought tears to my eyes. Isn’t this the gospel story– the story of One come to us all, the sinners, the dejected, the forlorn, the bullies, the lost, the hurting? A child born “unto us”– the Light of the World? Come so humbly and quietly in a stable? (Or as Imogene Herdman put it, “… they didn’t have room for Jesus? … you mean they put him in a feedbox? Where was the child welfare?” Haha!
It is a marvel to think how Jesus was born. Joseph couldn’t even find an inn. No soft bed or pillows. For Mary– there was no hospital, no pain meds, not even a midwife. Jesus was born in a stable with animals. No trumpets or earthly fanfare– but a star in the sky and a heavenly host of angels.
And I realize I am also changed… as I draw nearer to the stable, as I draw nearer to the heavenly throne, I am changed every step on the way. No other thing in this earth can change me like this, love me like this. It’s all about Jesus. When I smile at the 8-year-old little girl who comes to hug me, I am changed. When I kiss the one-year-old baby of a friend, I am the one changed. When I help a little shepherd tie his headpiece, I am changed. When I help my little guy with his belt and re-buttoning his wrongly buttoned shirt, I am reflecting His heart… and I am the one who is blessed.
May we see the birth of Jesus in a new light this season, drawing us closer, showing us something new we may not have seen before.
May each Christmas be the best one ever; may each day be so!
Sharing with Laura
And listing the weekly gifts of thanksgiving (#576-591):
576. a lady in the cast of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever who went to each child just before the performance, touched them on head and said, “Bless you”.
577. People who laughed at the play.
578. Thankful for so many people who contributed to the production.
579. A friend and hairdresser who cuts my hair– and does a fantastic job.
580. Getting the tree and Christmas decorations up. Keeping it a bit more simple this year, but still festive.
581. A science class taught by a former teacher for my eldest.
582. A Godly young man in his 20s offering to come over and teach my 10 year old son how to play a complicated strategy board game.
583. Meeting new people through the play.
584. A dinner invitation.
585. Jesus, come to us, the Light of the World.
586. Funny moments over the past few days– like sitting in the play this weekend, and a lady next to me fell asleep with a stack of toothpicks in her lap. Why do you ask, did she have toothpicks? Believe it or not, she was picking her teeth, during the show, in public– and wasn’t quiet about it! Oh my oh my, I wish I were making that one up. And then, later that night, at another show, the people sitting behind me were snacking on something (peanuts? who knows?) but the bag made a crinkly sound that just drove me crazy. Yet, overall, these were funny moments that made me and the kids laugh so hard when it was all over.
587. Chocolate mint cookies.
588. How beautiful people are. I stop– and really look– and I marvel at the beauty of God’s creativity and how he made us.
589. How great is His love for us, that he sent His son into the world, to live, to die, to dwell with us.
590. People who quietly bless behind the scenes at church- moving chairs, picking up trash from the floor, replacing the paper in the restroom- it’s all done, and we don’t think much about it.
591. Hearts that change, that truly transform because of who He is. Even if it’s just in a play, or a movie– it represents what happens in real life. 🙂