Sermon, Christmas Eve, 4 pm
On my Twitter feed last week another clergy person wrote, “One of my biggest liturgical shifts since ordination has been becoming a 100 percent Christmas pageant supporter,” which led to a thread on the pros and cons of Christmas pageants.
Another clergy person on Twitter posted up that she disliked them as a child and into adulthood because her older sister was always cast as Mary, while she was always relegated to a barn animal.
Over the years we have probably all seen many pageants: some good, some bad, some memorable, and some utterly forgettable.
But here's the thing about pageants, I think: yes, they are a way to “get the kids involved in the service,” but more than being cute or any other adjective we might apply, they all attempt to tell the story. And whether it's an attempt to modernize it as taking place in contemporary times or whether it stays firmly planted in first century Nazareth/Bethlehem, it strives to tell the story.
Today we heard and participated in what has become my favorite Christmas pageant – the “No Rehearsal Pageant.” No rehearsal means that we don't need to find people ahead of time to play the various parts. No rehearsal means that we don't need to spend days or hours working on lines and learning who stands and moves where. No rehearsal means that we don't have to necessarily worry that, like the clergy person I referenced above, the same person will always play Mary or always be a barnyard animal.
No rehearsal means we simply live into the story as presented in the gospel. No rehearsal means that we rely on volunteers to step up and play various parts. Although, to be honest, we did draft Parker, Bridgette, and Dash to play the parts of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus because . . . . well . . . . who can resist that level of cute?
Out of all of those reasons as to why I prefer the No Rehearsal Pageant, the fact that we simply live into the story is the best reason of all. The Christmas story is the amazing story of the immortal, invisible, omnipotent, omniscient, eternal God choosing to come to earth as a humble human. The resurrection of Christ on Easter is almost to be expected. But the Incarnation, God taking on human form and becoming THIS boggles the mind. This is the story that, with this pageant, we live into. We become players in the story.
As you leave from here, remember that you are players in this story. Remember that you are players not only inside these walls, but outside these walls as well. And remember this: no matter what role you played in the story – Joseph, Mary, the Emperor, the inn keeper, or any of the other parts, tonight we should remember that in this great story of God become human flesh, we are all really shepherds. Tonight and in the days to come we are those keeping watch. But more importantly, we are those who leave from here, glorifying and praising God for all we have heard and seen as it has been told to us.
Let us go and tell of this thing which the Lord has made known to us, that from this day forward, God is with us.