Sometimes, we are touched by unexpected moments in our day to day existence. One of those moments happened to me on a school field-trip.
I took my eight year old son on a field-trip to see The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at a local children’s theater company. The cast was young and inexperienced, and I did not go into the production with high expectations.
My son and I settled down next to his friends, and we began to watch the show. About half-way through the show, tears filled my eyes, and I continued to cry through the rest of the show.
If you’ve never read the book, it centers on a Christmas pageant and the Herdmans; a family of rough children that are the menace to their community. The Hermans are hated by pretty much everybody.
When the Herdmans find out that the church serves snacks, they decide it sounds like a pretty good place to be, and show up to Sunday school. They hear about the Christmas pageant and bully their way into all of the major roles. Hilarious antics ensue as the church and community are shocked by the Herdman’s rough and tumble ways.
The Herdman children have never heard the Christmas story before, and they try to add their own version to the play, including killing Herod and escaping with baby Jesus. You can’t help but feel sorry for the mom that was roped into directing the pageant.
There is a point in the play when the pageant looks like a disaster. That’s when I started crying, because I knew redemption was coming.
As someone who has worked both in children’s theater, and with foster children, the lessons of this story strike close to home. There is a point in all productions where there seems to be no hope. The children are going crazy, no one knows their lines, and there is something wrong with the costumes, props or scenery. In that moment you think all your hard work is in vain. It is difficult to believe your efforts matter.
This isn’t unlike life itself. There is always a moment that feels like everything is helpless in every major undertaking, whether it’s a camp for foster kids, a difficult job at work, or parenting your children.
The story of the Christmas pageant doesn’t end in disaster, and neither does your story. The Herdmans can’t help but be touched by the true meaning of Christmas and their community sees the Christmas story in a new light.
The story of redemption is part of the Christmas story, yet it is messier than we think. Mary and Joseph weren’t pristine creatures with halos over their heads. They were ordinary people that were put into extraordinary circumstances and had to make the best of their situation.
It is easy to believe that other people are somehow more extraordinary than we are. I often believe that other people are better, stronger and more together than I am. I am ordinary, how can I possible make a difference in the world?
The Herdmans reminded me that it’s not what I bring to the table, but the light of Christ that makes the difference. The children are changed by the story of Jesus. As they are transformed by Christ, their community is touched and transforms with them.
Christ shows up in extraordinary ways, and we cannot help but be affected. There is a great story being woven in the world. It’s the story of redemption and the story of change. We can be the difference, and we can make an impact if we only let the light of Christ shine through our lives. That’s the story of Christmas and it’s the story of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
I loved the book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever when I was a kid. It’s a great read-aloud for Christmas time if you haven’t read it. The book is short and doesn’t take a long time to read. I highly recommend it for Christmastime.
Have you seen the play or read the book? What do you think about the story. Have you been unexpectedly touched by the story of redemption?