Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Annual Christmas Pageant

Today was the Annual Christmas Pageant.

For more than a few minutes, we didn't think we'd be able to pull it off.

That was at about 8:15 AM when we realized, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that no one was going to show up for the 8 AM Eucharist.

Not one of the faithful - average age 72 - came to church. We were in the midst of a very bad ice and snow storm. We figured that if the older, faithful, dedicated folk weren't going to risk braving the elements for Jesus, probably parents and their kids wouldn't either.

Ah, never underestimate the power of a parent's desire to experience the pride of watching their kid perform in public - much less in a church production of "The Greatest Story Ever Told." I mean, what else would you do with that digital camera and/or video equipment?

Everyone showed up. All the musicians. All the actors. All the staff were there. There were no 'no-show's'

We had all the prerequisite wise, albeit young, people. Mary and Joseph were there - Mary bathed in blue and looking positively beatific (forget that she's a flibberty-jibbit and jabberwocky - by her parent's own description - in Sunday School). Joseph was there with a long beard, acting very protective and silent and strong (having learned a few things from caring for his 3 year old sister). Baby Jesus was in his manger - an inanimate, plastic doll this year. No mother willing to lend her infant to the cause. We've had - well, 'issues' - in the past, but that's another story for another time.

There were more angels than could dance on the head of a pin, their tinsel all aglitter and aglow, their eyes wide and cheeks blushed with excitement. One of the angels happened to look away long enough from her adoring fan club of grandparents, parents, and relatives to notice the baby in the manger. "Look!" Ellie whispered loudly to her big sister, Chloe. "It's BABY JESUS!!"

For all the squeals of excitement, you might have thought 'Tickle Me Elmo' had arrived!

After more than 20 years, we retired "the star" - the one the Wise People of every pageant have followed for generations - and debuted a new one. The old one had small wooden skewers attached to a large styrofoam ball in the center and other wooden skewers glued together from it with gold foil attached. Beyond repair, we worried that it might finally 'give up its ghost in the midst of the pageant and impale Sweet Baby Jesus or one of the unsuspecting farm animals.

We built a new one. Not quite as impressive as the last, and certainly not as huge, but this one had an actual battery-powered light in the middle. Awesome.

Our farm animals included a few cows, some absolutely adorable sheep, a butterfly who swooped and swirled herself up the aisle, and a bunny who hopped tirelessly if not dutifully up the entire length of the church aisle.

And then there was "Jerome" - the unicorn. Someone decided that there must have been a unicorn at the manger. "Why do you think that?" I asked. "Because," Gibson (aka Jerome the Unicorn) said. "It was a perfectly magical night and everyone knows that where ever there is magic, a unicorn is certain to be around."

Having no concrete evidence to the contrary, I decided this was not an argument I could win, so I let it pass. Sometimes, the illusion of defeat is more important than the reality of victory. I'll catch him later. In Confirmation Class.

The word is that we do this every year, whether we need to or not. We suspend all reason, all logic and rational, and enter into the realm of possibility. For 15 minutes or so, we get an annually renewable pass into The Magic Kingdom, where admission is free and there are no lines to get on the rides because, well, it IS a small world, after all.

We let the children lead the way, because in this postmodern world it makes us feel better, I think, about believing in Virgin Births in Mangers and Wise Men following stars, and angels singing, "Gloria!" into the otherwise Silent Night.

The Story of the Nativity allows us all to enter into a dimension of faith which Jesus says we must become like little children in order to fully appreciate.

We do so quite willingly - brave enough to even laugh at high winds and dare black ice to trip us up and threats of 'fender benders' in order - silently, so silently - to enter in where only fools dare to trod.

We do so because, impossibly, we want to believe in possibility. We want desperately to believe in hope. We want irrefutable evidence of miracles.

And, on one wintry, snowy Sunday morning, we all did. We got possibility and hope and miracles.

On this third Sunday in Advent, we prayed, "Stir up your power and come among us, O Lord."

I do believe God did.

And, a grand time was had by all.


Ann said...

Where can I get that T-shirt?

just another piskie said...

Do you mean to tell me you doubt that a unicorn might have been present at the first Christmas? Harrumph! And how do you think they were keeping warm in that stable if not from the heat gently breathed from the lungs of the dragon hiding out in back? ALL creation sings, I tell you. ALL creation!

Up here in Boston we were nor'eastered in, plus I've been laid up with shingles since last midweek, so I couldn't get in to the cathedral for our pageant. That was really too bad in my book, because the impending storm caused the regular pageant to be called off and we were going to have a do-it-yourself pageant. That would have been so cool to participate in! I still haven't found out how it went, but I bet it was enormously fun and possibly more meaningful than the rehearsed one would have been for the faithful remnant who braved the wind and snow to get there and discover they were to be the players.

There is something special about Christmas pageants, isn't there?

johnieb said...

Sounds wonderful. Jerome reminds me of the scene from *Love, Actually* when the Thompson character's child tells her he's the "second lobster" in their pageant.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, Ann, I'm sorry. I don't know.

And yes, Piskie, there is something wonderful about Christmas Pageants.

emmy said...

Jerome made me think of that lobster scene too!

Mom: There was more than one lobster present at the birth of Jesus?

Child: Duh.