Just tell the story
When I was 23 years old I was working as a youth minister in a parish in Boulder. I was a postulant at the time and preparing to go to seminary, so the Bishop had requested that my Rector allow me to be involved in more adult ministries in the church. So, he put me in charge of the Christmas pageant (I still don't quite get the logic). I decided to do a retelling of the Christmas story. I asked, what would it have looked like if Jesus had been born today (it was 1996) in Boulder? It was actually a pretty clever script. Joseph and Mary Davidson had come to Boulder for the census, and when all of the rooms were filled they had to sleep in the inkeeper's garage. They put Jesus in the back of an old Chevy. Instead of shepherds, the angels proclaimed the good news of Messiah's birth to the homeless on Pearl Street. Rather than wise men from the east, we had professors from the university. Everyone got a big kick out of it. But looking back on that pageant 22 years later, would I do it again? Absolutely not.
What 23 year old me never stopped to consider was why we have Christmas pageants in the first place. As I used to tell my former Children's Ministry directory, pageants are something to be survived ("I didn't realize it was going to be this hard!" she once said to me). So why are we doing a pageant at All Saints this year? Sure, it is adorable, and it gets people into church, but that is not why. We are doing a Christmas pageant because the story is important.
The Rev. Eric Zolner
Father Eric is a 3rd generation Anglican and the Rector of All Saints Anglican Church in Springfield, MO.