“I’m an angel, Daddy!”
“So you are” Daddy shot back. “A perfect angel. And your mother, she dressed you up, so she’s an angel, too!”
“And I’m a shepherd,” proclaimed Bennie.
“Yes, you are, and this year, you have no lines to memorize – just actions,” said Daddy.
Wynnie began rehearsing her angel lines for the Christmas pageant. ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill to all men’. At the pageant, she would be joined by two more angels where they would say all their lines together, in unison.
Every year, the children and their parents gathered in the church auditorium to tell the Christmas story, a time when the old story becomes new and fresh again, for everybody. And everybody has a part in the Christmas pageant. This year, Winnie’s new little sister would play the part of Baby Jesus. Wynnie hoped she didn’t cry, but if she did, her Mommy would have to come and pick her up so she would stop crying.
“Did Baby Jesus cry?” Wynnie asked Daddy.
‘I’m sure he did. He had feelings, too, just like you and me”
Inside the church, the windows were decorated with fir boughs, silver bows and candles.. The tall green spruce tree, decorated with white lights and silver tinsel stood off to the side. Under the tree were wrapped gifts, one for each child with a few extra just in case. Wynnie already understood that when we give gifts at Christmas, we are remembering the greatest gift that could ever be given, the gift of Jesus, given in love by God himself, to the whole world.
Each year, the Christmas pageant seems to have a surprise moment. Something unplanned happens. This year, Daddy made arrangements with Farmer Wayne to bring a mother sheep who he called Dolly and her lamb, Little Dolly to the church. Dolly would be led through the auditorium by Farmer Wayne and he said her lamb would be sure to follow, like in the poem, ‘Mary had a little lamb’. Then the mother sheep and her lamb would go on stage and be part of the pageant. Daddy thought about the risk. What could possibly go wrong?
The pageant, following the story of the birth of Jesus found in Luke Chapter Two, was moving along perfectly – Mary and Joseph arriving at the inn and being turned away by the inn keeper shaking his head, ‘No’, then everyone enthusiastically singing ‘No Room in the Inn.’
Then the scene shifting to the three shepherds on the Judean hills at night, with Farmer Wayne dressed up and holding onto Dolly, with Little Dolly close by. When Wynnie and the angels appear under bright lights and proclaim to the shepherds together, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men’, the shepherds fall back, in amazement. Then the lights go out and the angels disappear. At that moment, Farmer Wayne loses his grip on Dolly and she disappears, with her lamb, Little Dolly – into the darkness.
In the next scene, when the stage lights come back on, Mary is sitting on a wooden bench, Joseph standing beside her and Baby Jesus, wrapped in a pale blue blanket, is lying on a raised bed of first-cut green hay.
Crossing the stage in partial darkness, on their way to Bethlehem manger to see the baby, the narrator announces that “the shepherds ponder what they had seen and heard and what they will see when they get there”. Farmer Wayne is distracted, thinking about Dolly and her lamb, Little Dolly. Where are they?
The aroma of first-cut green hay is irresistible. Dolly arrives at the manger first, and with her lamb in tow, immediately starts eating – eating the bed of hay, on which Baby Jesus is sleeping. The audience is captivated and delighted by this unplanned turn of events. As the shepherds make their way across the stage, surround the cradle and kneel in worship, the audience stand and sing ‘Away in a Manger.’ Dolly and Little Dolly keep munching, and Jasmine sleeps on.
Wrapped gifts and plates of home-made goodies were given and received. While Dolly and Little Dolly provided a lighter moment, the celebration of the birth of Jesus and a wonderful Christmas pageant were enjoyed by all. Jasmine slept like a baby right through.
That night, Daddy asked, “Do you want to sleep like a baby tonight? I do. Jasmine is already asleep.”
“First, let’s pray and give thanks for Baby Jesus, God’s precious gift of Himself to all who will receive him.”
“Good night, Wynnie, Love you!
Good night, Bennie, Love you, too!”
“Good night, Daddy. Love you, too!” chimed two happy, sleepy voices.