Today the pageant died. I had picked a pageant out back at the end of October or beginning of November, one we had done in the past, so that I could be prepared with something but not have to plan immediately with all the intervening activities–a Fall Fiesta, Advent wreaths, a St. Nicholas party, not to mention regular Sunday school. So I successfully carried out all the activities between Halloween and Advent 2, and then, crash.
I will admit that the pageant is the thing that is hardest for me of all that I do at St. Chad’s. I don’t have theatrical experience (except for dealing with the theatrics of my children, but I don’t think that’s quite the same thing). I also find it really hard to control…I mean organize…all those little to not-so-little people in an open space such as the sanctuary. Right now we have a lot of “kinesthetic” kids who are really good at moving around, but not so much a sitting and preparing from a script. Though I had told them to stay in the sanctuary after the service to prep for the pageant, most all of them ran off somewhere else. So that was it. I was done. Dead pageant.
But from the ashes of the pageant arose wonderful people who are part of why I love this “job.” Parents and a dedicated volunteer stepped up and brainstormed and they gave me permission to not feel like a failure. We’ll simplify. If we need to, the kids, dressed in their nativity costumes, will sit and hear the Christmas story read, while they feel like a physical representation of the story. Maybe we’ll have them read their parts from stationary positions. Maybe they’ll gather around for a reading of the Christmas story and a discussion with Mother Jan. I don’t know. But I feel more joy after the death of the pageant than I’ve felt since Advent started. I feel like am am finally anticipating what the birth of Jesus will be like. I will go to work tomorrow to re-imagine the Christmas Eve…experience…in the simple form that feels more like the simple birth 2000 years ago.
What I knew from the start but didn’t act on is that we don’t need one more “to do” at this time of year. We need to be anticipating Jesus’ birth. That shouldn’t involve any shopping or cookie baking or Christmas concert-ing or finals-taking Pageant-prepping or other distraction from a humble couple expecting and welcoming their amazing newborn son. The kids should enjoy the Jesus Christmas experience. The families shouldn’t have one more rehearsal to add to their schedule. And so we’ll make it simple to honor a simple yet amazing birth.