I attended a Christmas pageant this afternoon at a small church outside of Covington, on the invitation of my friends, Bob and Dena. Bob was singing in the program, invited me, and so I decided to go.
The cantata was beautiful, and the small choir did a great job. What was interesting was that during the narrative portion of the cantata, the nativity story was acted out by church members. And, to make things look more realistic, all of the choir members were dressed as people of Biblical times.
It was one hundred percent small town Georgia. One person apologized to me for having so few people in the audience, with the explanation that most of the church members were in the pageant! I really hadn’t noticed, since I was sitting in the third row, and didn’t bother to look back to see who was seated behind me. There were also a couple of miscues on the projection screen during the production, causing us to sing the wrong words on one song where the audience was invited to sing along.
As I watched the story unfold and listened to the music, I was caught up in the old, old story that I have heard many, many times in my lifetime. Combining the cantata with the living nativity scene in a pageant was very effective and moving.
But what captured my attention in a brand new way was in watching all of these church members participate, costumes and all, as they brought the scriptural account of Jesus’ birth to life in their little church. Here were Georgia folk, dressed up as shepherds, townspeople, angels, and wise men, acting out and singing the Christmas story.
What I loved the very most were the angels with white socks keeping their feet warm, wise men sporting tennis shoes, and shepherds wearing wrist watches and looking more like hippies from the ‘60s than citizens of long-ago Bethlehem. It really brought the Christmas story to me in a new way. Even across the centuries, the story hasn’t changed. And it really doesn’t matter how realistic the costumes are or aren’t. If wise men want to wear tennis shoes, that’s perfectly fine with me. Hippie-looking shepherds are pretty cool! And who wants little angels to have chilly toes?
It is the story that is important.