Dear Friends in Christ—
I have been brought to Jesus by a lifetime of Christmas pageants.
When I was a small child (at Saint Christopher’s in Springfield), the pageant involved putting
figurines in a creche. I was excited to be holding a small wooden sheep. Early in the service, I
accidentally broke its head off. My grandmother miraculously had scotch tape in her purse, and
we taped the animal’s head back on.
When I was a newly-minted graduate and working in theater education, I hesitantly found my
way to church (at Saint Margaret’s, Dupont Circle). Kids from Adams Morgan (then a poorer
neighborhood) found their way to church in whatever costumes they had. I volunteered to
direct the play, and we had four Wise Men dressed as Spiderman and the Teenage Mutant
When I gave birth to my second child two weeks before Christmas, the pageant director at the
church where I was working (Grace Church in Amherst, Massachusetts) asked if I might loan my
daughter to be Jesus. I flatly refused to entrust my newborn to some teenage Mary. But my
family came and sat in the front row and, as the pageant was about to begin, the director
walked over and simply held out her hands. Some strange trust welled up in me. My baby slept
happily in Mary’s arms the whole time.
I write about these stories (just a few of many) because they remind me of how powerful this
simple “child’s” tradition can be. Re-enacting the nativity story allows us to put ourselves in the
story—much the way that medieval artists depicted the inhabitants of the stable looking like
the people they lived and worked with every day.
And sharing the story with one another? It doesn’t really teach us the plot. Pageants teach us
about love, connection, creativity, inclusion, and trust.
Our pageant is this Sunday at 5:00. It still has lessons for all of us.
Even if you don’t have a child in the pageant, you have this community of children that belongs
to you. I encourage you to celebrate with them and to continue your journey to Bethlehem
Yours in Christ,