Another tradition that has been part of my Christmas for a lifetime is the Christmas pageant. It is a blessing every year to see the children of the church perform the Bible story of Jesus' birth. It never grows old.
As a child I was always involved with the Sunday school children and youth Christmas play. Each year was a little bit different yet the story was the same. I was nearly always an angel or Mary, though I think one year I was a shepherd. The costumes were the best part. For at least twenty years the same light blue scarf covered Mary's head and the white angel gowns were well used. A box full of robes and glittery wings was pulled out year after year. And the props were always amazing. Some years there were elaborate backgrounds painted and designed by the talented ones of the church. The star held the spot of honor, sometimes even moving to ultimately hang over the stable.
The Christmas play took weeks of practice and massive work on the part of the directors to gather all the busy children around and get them focused on the story of Jesus' birth. The littlest ones nearly always sang, "Away in a Manger" to begin the program, dressed in their Christmas best. Often there was little music that came from their shy lips as they twisted and turned and pulled up their dresses in a row. The Christmas pageant was such a part of my life that I would often involve my nieces and nephews in a quickly organized play after the big Christmas dinner. Our attic always provided the necessary props and costumes for a reenactment of the holy story. I don't remember how those all worked out but I hope I wasn't as bossy as I remember.
As years passed it was soon my own boys who were in the pageants and a time or two I helped with the program. I wonder if they remember being shepherds or Joseph or wise men. The youth were small in number when they were growing up so I know they were involved.
Yesterday our youth performed a high tech version of the blessed story, using a newscast format and video "live" reports as the events occurred. It was delightful and very creative using the video screen to project the action where everyone could see, since our current worship setting doesn't have a raised platform. The story is old, yet always new in anticipation of the coming Savior.
"So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:4-7 NIV).