Christmas Pageants, in churches, in December, telling The Story, have been a tradition for centuries. They range from extravagant elegance, to even the basic “Live Nativity” scene… each telling the same tale. But why? Why do we do this every year? Year after year? Generation after generation? We all know how this ends, right? So, why bother? The answer goes beyond religious doctrine or, “…because it’s super cute.”
I’ll put my professional educator hat on and discuss curriculum, pedagogy, and developmental psychology for a moment. Here are the basics of the importance of Pageant for children…
- We work as a multi-age collective group to accomplish a common goal,
- We take the risk of presenting ourselves in front of an audience,
- We make mistakes and carry on – it’s not the end of the world if the “Star” falls off the pole, or a Magi sneezes,
- For some, we memorize lines; some remember to listen for cues; some add their own “sparkle” to our production,
- We learn the story of the Nativity – getting it way down deep through acting it out…
- …and learn about how humble beginnings do not define destiny,
- We step outside ourselves and learn to put ourselves into the shoes (or shepherds’ costumes) of another,
- We present the pageant in service to our church and town communities,
- The Pageant is a PLAY! We play! It’s fun! FUN IS IMPORTANT!
From the perspective of the audience…
- We bear witness to the work and play of beloved members of our community; we show up and are charmed; we support,
- We allow ourselves to be transported to the time of the Nativity, to a time of our being in a Pageant, to a time of our children being in Pageants…
- …and are wholly present to the Pageant being presented by these, Our Children, today,
- We gather to sing together in community – recognizing the value of music and community music-making to healthy living at any age and stage,
- The Pageant is FUN! When the littlest bring their own unscripted “sparkle”, we sparkle! FUN IS IMPORTANT!
From the perspective of the staff and Deacons…
- We are in service to our community every Sunday. This. Is. What. We. Do.
- It’s challenging… and who doesn’t like a little professional challenge (from time to time)? Moving things around in the Order of Service, stepping outside the lines, embracing the chaos (“Life is like a Christmas Pageant, you never know what you’re going to get.”), mixing it up,
- It’s FUN! The Sanctuary buzzes with the energy of the kids, and the vibe of “now for something completely different!” We all feel a little free-and-easy!
From the perspective of the wider community…
- This is what churches are “supposed” to do. Normal can feel so good.
- This is a service that often feels less structured, more open – we can walk in and engage as we choose.
- Our non-member families find children embraced and valued. That’s it. Nothing more or less.
So, “Why Pageant?” In the end, each of us brings into the Pageant, and carries out from the Pageant, our individual answers to that question.
Just like every Sunday – ever. But with just a little sparkle!
Yours in Anticipation…