December 22, 2017

Just Plain Joy

You just can’t beat a Christmas pageant for rousing up “the Christmas spirit.” Children don scratchy robes, wooly onesies with ears, or sparkling tinsel halos, transporting them into what is likely the first Bible story they know by heart. Not as in memorizing the first chapters of Luke, but, as in their hearts.

Pageant participants’ pure belief ripples through the congregation. Together, we are corporately living up to what we promised we would do when we witnessed these child actors being baptized: supporting them in their life in Christ. As delighted as we are with the performance, we are warmed by the knowledge that they are learning about Jesus.

Many congregations have incorporated Godly Play into Christian formation, which is a bit like keeping the Christmas pageant experience going all year long. As the Godly Plan Foundation explains, Godly Play helps children “to explore their faith through story, to gain religious language and to enhance their spiritual experience though wonder and play.”

When we think about Jesus and children, we remember that he used them as examples for us adults. God wants us to be as trusting and joyful about knowing Him as children are. Christmas pageants allow us to witness what Jesus meant (as we did at Trinity Episcopal Church in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where the accompany photo was taken).

This seems too good a lesson for us grown-ups to experience only once a year. What other opportunities can your congregation create for inter-generational learning and spiritual growth, and just plain joy?