Last week here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian we celebrated the second Sunday of Advent and took the theme “Outlasting the Energizer Bunny. (sermon here). This coming Sunday, December 16, will witness the annual miracle of the Christmas Nativity play.
It has been my experience, that no matter how prepared or unprepared a church may be for this annual event, there is always an element of surprise and wonder when it all actually comes together. Families and their children are so stretched between the many events and seasonal happenings, that even finding a time to rehearse is a major accomplishment.
On the day, those involved sometimes feel that herding cats may have been a more realistic enterprise than coordinating exactly who does what and wears what and takes the different parts, particularly as it always seems there are numerous last minute changes. A major player comes down with a seasonal bug, a family's travel plans change and now all their children want a part, the costumes for the angels have mysteriously disappeared and nobody knows where they may be. Organized chaos.
Our script this year has a Western theme and features characters such as “Wild Bill Hiccup” and “Claire the Calamity Kid.” And of course there will be much singing of carols and appearances by Joseph and Mary as we celebrate a very special birth. There may well be shepherds and wise folk... you just never know!
When you consider what Scripture tells us about the very first Christmas, the chaos that surrounds the annual Nativity play can remind us that the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, from a human standpoint, was certainly not a carefully orchestrated affair.
An unexpected census. The disruption of having to travel across the country to register in your home town. An imminent birth. No room at the Inn. Bedding down for the night and placing a new born baby in an animal's feeding trough. Shepherds traveling through the night talking about hearing angels songs and welcoming a Savior. Wise guys from afar bearing gifts. Crazy!
Yet from a heavenly perspective the timing was perfect. This was how the Savior was to be born. This was when the Savior was to be born. This was where the Savior was to be born. God planned it. The angels announced it. Every nuance of the story reflects God's concern for those that the world often fails to see. What appears to be just another birth in some random corner of creation turns out to be a revelation of God's glory.
My Christmas prayer for all the Nativity presentations that will take place in sanctuaries across the globe is that they may achieve the same purpose. That they may reveal afresh the love of God. As it says in the script of our particular play... “Y'all have a very merry Christmas, ya hear?”
For some seasonal music a children's choir sing “Away in a Manger.”
Rev. Adrian J Pratt B.D.