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    Jan 04, 2015

    The Joys of a True Christmas Pageant

    The Joys of a True Christmas Pageant

    Series: All

    Category: Winter 2015

    Keywords: christmas, volunteerism, gratitude

    St. Francis of Assisi is called the creator of the Christmas Pageant. He realized that the people he served needed to see the Christmas story and not just hear it read to them. Pageants became an important tool of helping people come nearer to God both in their minds and in their hearts.

              As a boy I participated in our church's Christmas pageants.  As I grew I went from a "shepherd" up the line to "Joseph."  I learned my lines and I learned the Christmas story by being a part of its telling to others.

              In every congregation I have served we have had a Christmas Pageant.  My wife Brenda has directed most of them.  They all had moments of unscripted surprises that touched the congregation's hearts.

              In the contemporary study Bible, The Message, Gabriel says, "Mary you have nothing to fear. God has a surprise for you."  And what a surprise! She went from a routine morning, to a surprise, to saying "I'm the Lord's maid, ready to serve."

              E.M Forester wrote: "We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."  We never know when we will be surprised God.

              My Christmas surprise this year came when three other Bella Vista Episcopalians, Gary Lowe, Mike Bryson, and Mike Sheets, and I were asked by Irene Medrano, the Executive Director of the Benton County Sharing and Caring Program, to volunteer to be the deliverers of new part of the distribution day of the gifts to the 1,647 families representing 4,287 children.  Our church has participated in this program for nine years.

              Our responsibilities were easy.  We were to stand outside and give to each person with a yellow card and identification a $10.00 gas card to Walmart paid for by Sharing and Caring.  No one told us to bring Kleenex for the clients and for us! God had a surprise for all of us!

              As Gary said what was true for each one of us volunteers, I have never been so "God bless you" in my life.  The tears of gratitude flowed and flowed. 

              I could tell the stories we experienced at the fair grounds for a very long time! We saw the working poor of Benton County.  We saw young couples, single moms, and grandparents who had again become parents.  We saw people from all over the world. (some presented passports as their means of identification.)

              I saw people I knew, including a woman I had baptized just before she was released at the prison in Fayetteville. I saw a waitress at a favorite restraurant, one of the checkers at a local market, and a clerk at a convince store.  Hardworking people that a $10.00 gift card for gas was a big Christmas surprise!

            God came and humbled himself to be like us - all of us. God surprised me and shared and cared for me once again. Thank you God!