Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Miracle of the Bathrobe Pageant

Today we celebrated the Children's Christmas Program at church. It is one of my favorite parts of belonging to a church family. Last year I was explaining to Richard Gilbert, our interim pastor at the time, what I had in mind for a program. He smiled and said "Oh yes, the Bathrobe Pageant." I had never heard it called that before, but when I thought of all the costumes in church storage made from velour bathrobes, I had to laugh. Along with tinsel halos and burlap pullovers, the velour bathrobe is a quintessential low budge church costume item. Add some fake fur or gold trim and voila! You've got wise men, rich inn keepers and kings.

Since it is such a busy time of year and kids are also involved in their school music programs, sports or the Nutcracker ballet, we can only manage to pull off a couple of practices before the big day. The Saturday before the program we do a dress rehearsal in the santuary. It is usually so rough that everyone is sweating bullets and praying for a miracle. Then something happens between Saturday and Sunday morning, the whole thing comes together and the kids pull it off. I've seen the miracle happen year after year.

Some years we have too many shepherds and not enough sheep. Last year Mary was a single parent. I can't force children into doing something they don't want to do. Most of my Sunday school kids are fairly reticent. Thank God Alana and her family started coming to our church. I now have two kids who are willing to sing and speak into the microphone. (Plus I have a stage mom to help me). All the other kids pretty much lip sync or talk so softly that no one past the first two rows can hear them, especially not the old folks with their hearing aids.

This year was even more special because I was able to talk Chris into playing the part of Joseph. The only reason he agreed was because it wasn't a speaking part. At home I can't get him to stop talking. After the rehearsal on Saturday my mom asked him what part he was in the pageant. He said "I'm a father". "But I don't have any lines." Then a few minutes later he added, "I have a wife." The part of Mary was played by Jessica. Six years ago, both Christopher and Jessica played the part of the Baby Jesus. Chris was on Sunday, Jessica on Christmas Eve.

Chris was seven months old at the time. I carried him up to the front of the church and placed him in the manger. He sat upright with that perfectly straight back that only infants sit with and played with the hay. There was a little girl at the time named Carly who was kind of a wild child. She was hard to contain and everyone smirked at the sight of her in an angel costume. But she hovered over Christopher the whole time, picking straw out of his hair, stroking his head. She doted on him exactly the way I imagine an angel would have doted on the real Baby Jesus. The two of them stole the show. This Christmas season, may there be many miracles in your life.

Maya tries on a pair of wings before the service.

Tea and Andrea as angels.

Riley and Bradley are shepherds awaiting the good news. N0w I know what the shepherds' staffs are for, to keep them from pulling their arms inside the burlap bags.

Andie is always an angel, even if real life.

Falcom and Marina sing a duet.

6 years ago, Chris and Jessica were both baby Jesus in different church services.
Now they are Joseph and Mary.

Emmett plays the cello.

Mariah (right), our narrator, brings cookies home from the cookie exchange.

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