Last week here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church we reflected on a well known Christmas carol. Our sermon, “Stumps and Shoots” can be found here. This coming Sunday we shall celebrate the third Sunday of Advent with our children's Nativity play. Hopefully all will go well. Back in my homelands in the U.K, the annual Christmas play featured as part of many an elementary schools annual calendar.
It seemed like every teacher had a story to tell about the Christmas Nativity play. There was the time the Innkeeper, when asked if there was any room in the Inn, answered, "Plenty" and ushered the startled Holy Family inside; the occasion when Mary dropped Baby Jesus, immediately bursting into floods of tears as the head of the large pink doll rolled off the stage and bounced along the front of the hall; the time that the Archangel Gabriel informed Mary that he had tidings of great joy to bring but had completely forgotten what they were.
Then there was the performance when the little boy playing Joseph strode confidently onto the stage and asked the small figure in blue, cradling her baby, "And how's our Jesus been today, Mary?" "He's been a right little so-and-so!" came the blunt reply.
Another time, the six-year-old playing the Innkeeper was most disgruntled with his part, having wanted to take the lead as Joseph. When the Holy Family arrived at the Inn and asked for a room the Innkeeper pulled Mary through the door and told a startled Joseph, "She can come in, but you can get lost!”
In one Nativity play Mary cradled a large doll with a mass of blond curls but as she rocked it in her arms it suddenly began to speak in a tinny American accent: "Hi, my name's Tammy and I need my diapers changing. Hi, my name's Tammy and I need my diapers changing." The little boy playing Joseph came to her assistance and, seizing the doll, twisted it's head around, which promptly shut it up.
There is a saying in the world of theater, “Never work with children or animals.” Yet somehow the Christmas story would not be the same without it being retold with a whole cast of little ones. So we will we do our best to tell the old, old story in our own imperfect way!
At the core of the Christmas story is the birth of a child. A child, who when He grew up, said to His would be followers "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
As we rejoice at the achievements of our little ones, maybe we can also reflect that embracing life with innocence, wonder and “making it up as we go along” has always featured as a component of true discipleship!
For some music “Oh Holy Night” sung by little Claire Ryann Crosby at the annual Crosby's Christmas Concert.
The Reverend Adrian J. Pratt B.D.