Poughkeepsie - "I have never had so much fun with telling the Christmas Story!" This is a direct quote from the pastor of the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ on the Westbound arterial in downtown Poughkeepsie.
Part way through worship this past Sunday, everyone present was given a brown paper bag. In each bag were parts for the Christmas pageant. No one knew what was in their bag. Then on a signal, all present opened their bags-children and senior citizens-and proceeded to put on their costumes. The sanctuary was filled with laughter and conversation as discovery took place.
The pastor can be further quoted as saying, "This rated among the most joyful five minutes of twenty years of ministry. It was wonderful seeing and hearing people discover their parts and then it was great looking out from the front of the church and seeing my whole congregation in costume."
Then the pageant took place. It definitely wasn’t quiet as all took their places at the front of the sanctuary. It was fun discovering who had what parts, some of which really caused a person to ponder because they communicated powerful truths. Joseph ended up being a grandmother from Kenya who knows practically no English, the Christ Child was a female librarian, the Pastor ended up being the Angel Gabriel, Mary ended up being a mother (but not really). Mary’s part had actually ended up in the hands of a fifteen year old boy who said to the one who became Mary, "Please, help, I just can’t do this." A trade took place (no trading was supposed to take place, but some things are okay anyway), and God’s child gained a mother.
What was the real message? All are a part of God’s story and can be any part in the story-believer and non-believer, visitor and member, older and younger, male or female. Some might view this telling as heretical. Others though like the members of First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ have a very different opinion. All got to be a part of the story-Mary, Joseph, the Christ Child, angels, shepherds, magi, inn keeper, camels, sheep, cows, donkeys, star (added were chickens, rabbits, mice, and stars).