Thursday, December 11, 2008

Remembering Christmas Programs Past

For pastors, DCE's, elders in charge of CE and Youth, Youth Ministers, choir directors and parents everywhere it's the season for Christmas pageants and programs.

One of the great things about these Advent efforts is that congregations tend to be very forgiving when things don't go as planned if children are involved! Nonetheless, those in charge tend to suffer from nervous stomachs and anxious hearts until it's all over.

What's your favorite Christmas pageant/program story? Please share it in the comments--it can be a good memory or a story of comic disaster.

Here's mine:

A few years ago we attended the "children's" Christmas Eve service at Tall Steeple Church in The Piney Woods to watch my niece's family participate in the program. My niece and her 3 very young daughters were angels, decked out in white robes, wings and halos. The church very cleverly arranged a high Mom-to-child ratio in this particular band of the Heavenly Host.

Her husband was one of the 3 Kings and thus separated from the rest of the family since the Kings were the last to appear--fortunately the time was conflated so we didn't have to wait until Twelfth Night!

Back to the story. The pageant was done tableaux-style--with a narrator and no other speaking parts. The Heavenly Host took the stage first and remained onstage for the entire presentation. This tested the patience of my niece's youngest daughter--then 3. She began wiggling and I could see her mother hissing at her to be still.

Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus appeared. Our littlest angel gradually began inching her way further and further away until finally she was out of Mom's reach.

The shepherds saw the star in the east and came to worship. Her oldest sister, seeing what was up, moved in the opposite direction with her best "I'm not related" look on her face. Mom's angelic smile turned into grimace.

Then the Three Kings started down the aisle. "Hi Daddy!" she shouted, when she saw him. Mom lunged forward and pulled her back into position. She pouted.

As the program ended with the congregation singing "Joy To The World", our little angel escaped from Mom, pranced forward on the stage and pulled her angelic rainment up over her head, flashing the packed sanctuary.

"Well," said her grandmother, "at least she had her panties on!"


scotirish said...

I have read of many churches celebrating Christmas with Pageants that include an actual baby portraying the role of 'baby Jesus'. Our first child Ruth, was born December 12th, 1981 and was chosen to be 'baby Jesus' for our church's (Reba Place Fellowship) Christmas Eve service. Last year, our grandson, Charlie, born on Oct. 19th 2008, was chosen, also at Reba Place Fellowship. But in prison no such ritual exists.

I wasn't even thinking about babies being in Christmas plays back in 1972. This was yet another year in prison, the difference being this was my first Christmas as a christian. The Christmas service held new meaning for me as we sang the traditional Christmas Carols bringing with it a hope for a new life with a redeemed future. Christian volunteers were a part of our service at the U. S. Medical Center for Prisoners in Springfield, Mo.

As our service wound to completion a cry was heard. The faint
whimpering of a baby. My first thought was that I wasn't hearing what I thought I had heard. I had been in prison for many years and had never even seen a baby inside of a prison (not counting my infrequent times in the visiting room.) But there it was again, a baby crying. Someone, a volunteer, had brought their baby into the service wrapped in a blanket unnoticed by the guards. I then thought, there was our 'baby
Jesus'. The parents of the yet unknown child were the children of an older couple (Lloyd and Nita Colbaugh) who had only a few years previously began their ministry to the prison. Even the great-grandmother, (Mom Carter) was a volunteer and had played a significant role in my own conversion, telling me that God had a plan for my life.

Life would go on and the incident of 'baby Jesus' coming to prison would fade to a memory, until the baby grew up and now is known throughout many countries far and wide as acclaimed Christian
singer/songwriter Sara Groves. I hope this story adds to your appreciation of the life of Sara and her family.
John C Thomson

Quotidian Grace said...

Thanks for sharing this special memory with us!

Elaine said...

What a great story!

Norman, OK

Viola Larson said...

what a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it. That is what christmas is about. Jesus Christ, the incarnation, transforming our lives.

Quotidian Grace, your story was great too, so warm and human. it reminds me of a lot of Christmas programs when my six kids were small.