The Christmas Pageant That Didn’t Stop
One year, our small church decided to expand our typical Christmas pageant to include more than the story of the birth of Christ. Through drama and music, we told the story of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as part of our Christmas celebration.
Children, moms, dads, and grandparents all had parts in this grand venture, counting on relatives and community members to people the audience.
Practices had their comic moments with forgotten lines and out-of-control sheep and angels and an odd mixture of darkened catsup representing the blood Jesus shed. On the day of presentation, the mood changed. A church member’s newborn played the part of Baby Jesus. That part was tender but expected for a Christmas service. But we carried the story beyond Christ’s birth.
Seeing people I knew well playing the parts of disciples, including Judas, sobered me as I sat watching the Upper Room scene from the piano, waiting for my cue for the next song. People like you and like me betrayed Jesus, doubted Him, abandoned Him. The scene in the Garden of Gethsemane gripped me with its impact. Jesus’ sleeping friends could have been me.
The audience held their collective breath—as I did—during the Cross scene. The man we knew as Dave played the suffering Jesus role well. But it was Jeannine—a grandmother drafted to play the mother of Jesus—who drove the story deeper into my heart that day.
When Dave (Jesus) was lowered from the Cross, the soldiers laid him in Jeannine’s (Mary’s) waiting arms. Her soft tears turned to wrenching sobs. Real sobs. No acting job. It was as if for the first time she felt the full weight of the sacrifice of “her” son, God’s Son.
We entered into her grief with her. Weeping swept through the sanctuary. The music swam before my eyes. A few minutes earlier, we’d seen a younger Mary cradle a Babe. Now we watched an older Mary weep over the loss of her Child.
Somehow my vision cleared, both figuratively and literally, and music ushered in the next scene. From the womb to the manger to the cross to the tomb to His resurrection. And even then, the story was only half told. Because of God’s gift of His Son at Christmas and Christ’s gift of Himself at the Cross, our own stories have a chance to breathe.
“The Father has sent the Son to be the savior of the world,” I John 4:14, CEB
Easter scenes in the Christmas pageant? Uncommon. Profound. Life-changing.
http://www.cynthiaruchti.com or http://www.hemmedinhope.com .
Cynthia is offering a copy of An Endless Christmas (U.S. residents only)
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