This past Sunday my church hosted a Christmas celebration for the community that was over the top good. It was one of those moments when you’re convinced that we ought to be celebrating the fact that Jesus came to this earth every day, instead of just once a year.
Instead of once a week.
People from all over the community came.
Some who have more money than they know what to do with. Some who don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
Some who have never set foot in a correctional facility. Some who were just released.
Some who grew up in church. Some who didn’t.
Some who have just come to know Jesus within the last year. So this was like their first Christmas. Their first real Christmas.
When it dawns on you that Christmas is about more than stores and sales and buying presents.
More than fudge and fruitcake.
Made me think about the play I directed in my second year of teaching, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, based on the story by Barbara Robinson.
The story’s about this church Christmas pageant that the children put on, and how these kids from a poor family – the Herdmans – who have never heard about the birth of Jesus become involved in the production.
More than involved, they play the lead characters.
The Herdmans are ill-mannered, irreverent, and ready to fight in a moment’s notice. They create havoc for the director of the pageant, until she realizes that they’ve never heard the Christmas story.
They don’t know all the characters and all the events of the second chapter of Luke like some of us do.
My favorite line in the whole show is when Imogene Herdman, playing the role of Mary, shouts that instead of naming the baby, Jesus, she “woulda named him Bill!”
Everything that could possibly go wrong does during the rehearsals, including a lot of church people being upset at “those kids” playing the leading roles of Mary, Joseph, and the Angel of the Lord.
But when the moment arrives, no one is more touched by the story than the Herdman kids.
“Those kids” were the perfect ones to play the leading roles.
People who were the least likely to be chosen.
People who weren’t good enough by piety’s standards.
People who were young and weak and filled with doubt.
Just like I am.
Well, minus the young part.