I asked a good friend of mine why she thought we were doing the Christmas pageant this year. She surprised me by her response, “Because you wanted us to do it.” While I won’t say this couldn’t have been farther from the truth, it wasn’t all that close to the truth either. I responded, “No, you wanted to do it. I never wanted to do it at all.”
Now I wasn’t ever against the Christmas play, but it was not my vision. It was the vision of another extremely creative and helpful volunteer laywoman.
Our pageant and dinner afterwards exceeded my expectations like Usain Bolt turning the corner in the 200 meters and leaving everyone/everything else looking forward. My expectations could only see reality from a distance, and then simply stand there amazed after the race.
Let me share with you several reasons why I now hope that the Christmas Pageant becomes a regular staple in Redeemer’s celebration.
1.) Gifts. It takes a variety of gifts to pull off a pageant. Acting, administrating, artistic, planning, musicians, singers, technical, audio, “engineery” type people, leaders, followers. Pageants expose gifts in people that they or you (as pastor) didn’t know existed. Now they always expose the need for the fruit of the Spirit (patience), but at the same time they also give Spirit the opportunity to produce fruit of the Spirit (patience). I witnessed that fruit.
2.) Outreach. This is always my concern with most children’s activities: is there an outward component to our activity? We spend much time discipling our children in churches through regular Sunday School most of the year. If you want assistance in discipling your children, you have it. But what about spending a little energy on the kids/folks outside the church who don’t know the hope and forgiveness of Christ? Since it was our first play, we didn’t focus too much on outreach (we wanted to see a little of what we had before inviting those outside the church to see it), outside of ladies printing some very creative invitations. However, our church was packed for the play. Packed. And packed with folks outside the church. Were there unbelievers present? I can assume many were. Next year, we will make a more concerted effort to reach out. Regardless, many unbelieving folks outside the church were invited, and several came. Henderson’s were 0-4, but I know of one woman who batted .333. Not bad!
These are great reasons to do a pageant. But let me tell you one more reason why I so thoroughly enjoyed doing the pageant and it had nothing necessarily to do with the performance last night.
3.) Discipleship. Children today know so much about so many things, but little about the bible. In a season dominated by Santa and toys, it is so important not only to keep Jesus in front of them, but to teach them the Christmas narrative. Isn’t a Christmas play simply for parents to see their kids looking cute in costumes and mention Jesus when they can? I’ll admit they looked super cute dressed up as a donkey, camel, or cow, but I think it can be much more than that.
At the beginning of most practices, I reiterated EVERY week, why we were doing the Xmas pageant: “To teach you guys the story and let you tell it back to us so that we can believe it too.”
In Sunday School, before the pageant was performed, my wife began asking some kids about Gabriel, Mary and Elizabeth. The kids’ thoughts quickly turned to, “Hmm…well first Mary sees Gabriel and is scared and drops her basket, and then….” They started thinking through things that they remembered from the play. They learned the Xmas story through the pageant. It was supplemental discipleship, and particularly helpful for visual and kinesthetic learning types.
The Holy Spirit saw fit to teach the children the story. We accomplished the first part of our goal! The 2nd part is up in the air and will be less quantifiable. But why not aim big and trust the Spirit to finish the work He started? He may just use our feeble efforts to put people in the path of grace.
I could go on and on about other reasons for such a pageant such as the joy it brings people, the fellowship time it offers, the blessing it could be for the community. But I still can’t get over the fact that the play, at least in part, accomplished what he had hoped set out for it to do. Amen.