Thursday, December 15, 2016

Still One of My Favorite Christmas Pageants
In Barbara Robinson’s "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever," six members of the Herdman family, "absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world," somehow finagle their way into getting lead parts in the Second Presbyterian Church’s annual Christmas play. It was a tadition that hadn’t seen any changes for as long as anyone could remember.

But to these uninhibited, stringy-haired newcomers to the church, everything in the story was new, and represented high drama. Pint-sized Gladys, who got the part of the "Angel of the Lord,’" bellows out, "Hey, Unto you a child is born!" as though it was indeed the most urgent news in the world. Leroy, one of the Wise Men, brings in the Herdman’s food-basket ham as his gift for the Christ child (instead of the fake gold, frankincense and myrrh he considered an unworthy offering). And terrible Imogene, as Mary, protested in practice, "You mean they tie him up and put him in a feedbag? Where was the Child Welfare?" (the Herdman’s knew all about Child Welfare). 

But on the night of the play--one everyone thought would be ruined by the Herdmans--scraggly little Imogene Herdman was awestruck.

"In the candlelight her face was all shiny with tears and she didn’t even bother to wipe them away. She just sat there--awful old Imogene--in her crookedy veil, crying... as if she had just caught onto the idea of God, and the wonder of Christmas." 

Maybe we all, like the Herdman’s, need to start over, hear and experience the story afresh.

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