This week, our Sunday worship was graced by the Sunday School Christmas Pageant! The children were the preachers and the Word was heard. Three prophets, numerous angels, animals, Mary and Joseph, Gabriel, a Star, and the manger heralded the birth of Jesus, whose part was played, as always, by our youngest member. Previously, this week, Bishop Payne sent out a beautiful Advent letter, reminding us, the pastors and other rostered leaders, to remember to meditate on the Nativity. Luther’s beautiful Christmas book, edited by Roland Bainton is a series of such meditations.
During our Christmas pageant, it occured to me that the pageant itself could be considered a re-enactment meditation, the fruit of centuries of the church’s reflection on the birth of Christ; although it simply looks like a sweet, humble pageant, it’s a doorway to glory. A traditional way of meditating on scripture, in Christian tradition, is to choose a particular perspective from within the portion of text you are reading. So, let’s say you were reading the Nativity story. What’s it like from the point of view of one of the participants? The Christmas pageant lets us all do that–imagining again what it was like, for a shepherd, or for Joseph, or Gabriel. One year, we enacted one called the “Noisy Night,” a pageant from the perspective of the animals.
This year, one of the innovations, in our pageant, was the inclusion of three prophets: so we heard 1000 years of proclamation. In appearance, it was simply presented. Three small prophets with three long, crooked, homemade beards, and colorful robes, wrote on three scrolls, and even though we knew the story, while they were writing/painting on the scrolls, many of us were deeply attentive to what they would write. And we listened to the narrator’s words, “a child will be born,’ with as much attention, as if we were hearing it for the first time.
Every year, each pageant is different, just as Christ comes differently, and surprisngly in the different seasons of our lives. This year, during Advent preparations, our scriptural focus has been on prophets, Isaiah and John the Baptist. Including the voices and announcements of the prophets in our pageant brought home the message we’ve been hearing over and over again this season: God has been speaking to us for a very long time…in many and various ways, and now through a Savior, which is Christ, the Lord. May this last week of Advent preparation open us even more to the mystery and wonder of his birth in the cradle of our hearts. Be loved, beloved friends, this season. May joy and grace embrace you, surprise you, and delight you.