Our Living Crèche Christmas Pageant cradled our parish this morning in God’s grace.
Grace was everywhere – outside in the brilliant sunshine lighting up the icy world, inside in the laughter that sang and wove among us as we donned our costumes. Phones snapped photos of angels in white cottas wrapped in golden garlands, of shepherds in subdued earth tones, of Mary in her blue gown.
Once costumed, we assembled in the narthex of the church and waited for our cue to step up the aisle, seven pews apart, genuflect before the chancel steps, and take our places in the scene. We were adults, young and old, and children, two to fourteen. We were of many races and backgrounds. But the love of Christ wove through us on this cold and bright wintry morning.
This tableau is not a silent one, for we spoke our lines from Luke 2 about the greatest drama on earth, the birth of our Lord Jesus. We sang carols full of hope and faith, sending our song over the rapt congregation. It was as though we included them in the Living Crèche with our soaring song. The notes danced in the air, sweet tunes, simple tunes that lingered. We invited those in the pews to watch and pray, to worship with us within the tableau. We invited them into our story.
For it is a story for all of us, about all of us, with no one left out, no one separated from the love of God. In our divisive world, in this world that fractures faith and bullies belief, in this world that isolates and pushes the pulse of church life to the edges of society, we will not be silent. We will sing our songs and proclaim our good news, our message of salvation. As we stood in the chancel, our songbooks in our palms, we sent our music winging, not only to the people in the pews, but out the front doors and into the streets of our communities.
It has been said that man is incurably religious because of his mortality. At some point we all must face our death, our dying flesh, our limited time on earth. What comes next? Is this all there is? Our culture wishes to silence our reply. Heaven comes next, we answer. Let’s get ready. Let’s prepare here on earth for the great banquet in Heaven. Let’s set out on the right road on our pilgrimage to God with God. For only by journeying with him will we arrive at our true destination, find our true destiny, God himself.
I have taken part in Christmas Crèches and Pageants for over forty years and I am always stunned by the miracles birthed as we tell the story. We are so small and weak and human, so full of self. And yet as we tell this story of the child born to Mary in Bethlehem, of the shepherds and the angels and the heavenly host on a cold clear starry night over two thousand years ago, we are fed by love, made one body in the love of God. We soon see that the glories of the Incarnation are here, present among us, present on the altar, present in our hearts. The holy child of Bethlehem lives today.
It happened this morning once again. It was clear and cold, a midday clear if not a midnight clear, and grace wove among us, lacing us together with God’s love. Such a Christmas present is nearly too joyous to bear. And so we share it with you, let it overflow into the communities in which we live. For grace grows in love, weaving us together into a beautiful tapestry, a solemn sonnet, so that many races, many ages, many walks of life are woven together. No one is left out in this creche.
For all is grace.