One of our family traditions each Christmas has been to see a living nativity pageant, a dramatic reenactment in biblical costume of Christ’s birth. For Drake’s first Christmas, Parker and I went to see the pageant; Drake and Kelly stayed home. Parker’s buddy Zeb, who is four years older than Parker, played the significant role of a villager. Zeb’s part required him to do two very important things: (1) to lie on a mat; and (2) to be pushed down by a Roman soldier. I checked the footnotes to see if this was actually in the Bible. It was not. According to six-year-old Parker, however, because Zeb was pushed, “It’s in the Bible.”
When we arrived home, Parker was ready to perform his version of the pageant. I asked him if he might want to be in Zeb’s production one day. “No, Dad,” he replied, “I’ll just do my own in the neighborhood.” With that Parker made a list of fourteen characters to recruit for the neighborhood pageant. Some were in the Bible, others were imagined.
- Guys who get pushed – 2
- Soldiers who push the guys – 2
- Shepherds – 3
- Magi – 3
- Mary – 1
- Joseph – 1
- Angel – 1
- “Harold” the King – 1
We rehearsed the pageant in our front yard, chose neighbors to play characters, practiced their parts, and staged the scenes. But when the time arrived for our pageant, all the neighbors left town for vacation. Apparently they did not understand everything that Parker planned. He wondered why anyone would leave town and miss the chance to be in the pageant.
To make up for the absence of neighbors, we performed a family version of “Harold the King” on Christmas Eve at home. Grandparents played their parts. Drake played baby Jesus. I was a shepherd and a few other characters. Kelly played Mary, wearing blue. Parker was the guy who gets pushed down.
Like many other children, the fun for Parker was in the planning, imagining, and designing of an event that never quite took place. But I’ve wondered how often God has given us the opportunity each year to be a part of the performance. Too distracted and busy with everything else going on, we miss our part in the story.
The Christmas story invites us to be a part of the next generation who not only observes the drama but reenacts the meaning in our lives. We plan, prepare, tell and live the message that God is with us. Someone has been writing a role for you. Will you be here for your part?