Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Authenticity and the Impromptu Nativity

I attend a very small, rural, non-denominational church. The building is an old red brick schoolhouse set back against a hill and surrounded by bush. It is a strikingly beautiful place, perhaps because of its rough hewn qualities. During service in winter, we look out huge windows at snow laden trees. One Sunday morning a deer dropped by in search of winter grazing.
The Christmas candlelight service has always been special. The place is packed with local families and cottagers visiting the area for a unique Christmas experience. But because our church does not have "programs" such as a Sunday School, it has always been a challenge to include elements in the service which will appeal to the children gathered. Last year we did an impromptu Christmas acrostic. The children loved doing it, fresh and unrehearsed, with a good narrator to carry them along. This has emboldened me, this year, to try an impromptu Nativity.
So the script is written, a little freshness, a little tradition. We are having wisepersons this year, since I suspect a girl or two may have to bear in gifts. The costumes are assembled, mostly, just bits and bobs, material to drape, hats and canes to don and carry. And, all unrehearsed, the Holy Family, the baby Jesus (seven months old at last reckoning), the angels, star, shepherds, sheep and wisepersons will assemble at the front. A bale of hay will stand for the stable. Totally unrehearsed, the children will do it, I trust, and they'll bring to the familiar story a freshness which can only be born of their own enthusiasm, and the authenticity of their youth and faith.
Of course, on the first Christmas, no one had time for rehearsals either. They had to take it as it came. The pain, the blood, the cold and exposure, the shock and surprise, the joy, the love, the simple pleasure of friendly fellowship, the awe of worship and the symbolism of gifts. Just as it came. Authentically.
So, this is how I face Christmas this year. Just as it comes. A little more simply. A few less gifts. Some goat equivalents mailed out. Simpler decorations and a come what may attitude. I'm for an authentic Christmas. And if the angels giggle a little, or the shepherds forget to kneel, it will be real, unrehearsed, an improvisation, just like the first Christmas.
Oh God, let the sheer humanity, the holy reality of it, the authenticity of it, soften hard hearts and heal broken ones. Let it be!


bobbie said...

wonderful! praying for you, the schedule is filling up so i don't think we'll be able to get together, but you will be in my thoughts and prayers this holiday! thank you for honoring the wise girls too! :)

Anonymous said...

Amen, let it be so! Peace to you, woman of good will. And blessings for the season. Anj

Lisa said...

Let it be! indeed! Sounds so great. A close friend of mine just had her baby last sunday. Thinking of Miia coming into a stable puts a new, raw twist on the story for me. I'll look forward to hearing about how the nativity flowed.

p.s. I love your writing!

Queenie said...

This is a really nice blog. Warmth.