And God Comes Near

I have been reflecting on the role of nativity plays, pageants, and tableaux in the formation of our spirituality. Here are my thoughts.

In December 2017, as I watched the children and young adults play their various roles in the tableaux written by one of our church members, I felt a strong connection with the narrative. I knew many of the "actors" and their families — the braying and baa-ing little children who were donkeys and sheep, the three tall young men who were the magi, the teenager who was Mary, accompanied by a teenaged Joseph. Then there were the narrators, who occasionally stumbled over less-familiar words but who were obviously pouring their hearts and souls into the fulfillment of their responsibility. At least three continents and seven or eight countries were represented among the participants.

It was not important whether the children got the details of the biblical narrative "right". Into the realm of trivia faded the problem I have, as a science-informed, 21st-century Christian, with whether the events actually occurred the way they were being presented.

My imagination was freed up to experience the reality that Jesus was very near for the enactors of the story. In a very real way, Jesus had come alongside each person present in the sanctuary — including me.

And that is trustworthy. That is real. That we can depend on. That we can live out in our daily lives as well as during pageants and plays at Christmas.

John 1:1,14 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (NIV)

Prayer: Loving God, You have come near to us in order that we might come near to You. We pray that that may be our experience in sanctuary and Sunday church school and in the world where we live out our lives on a daily basis. Amen.

1 comment on this post.
  1. PresbyCan Feedback:

    Have a Merry Christmas, John.


    John, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Very true.


    Thank you, John for bringing a new meaning to a familiar experience.


    Thank you, John, for sharing this devotional with us. In my mind’s eye, I could “see” that pageant. Blessings.


    Thank you, John. May you, Marilyn, James, Jane and family have a blessed Christmas.
    All the best in 2019.


    Hi John, I wondered if you were the writer as I read the devotional. Very thought producing. Keep it up! Have a Blessed Christmas.


    Thank you for the insight and a current devotional. God is near, now. We do learn from the past. But today is for a reason. I’m looking forward to today.


    Amen John. And thank God there are still children learning about and knowing God in our country where so many children have never even heard His name.
    Christmas blessings.


    Well-said and memorable. Everyone remembers those pageant days but you made them personal and real with words like ‘stumbling’ and the little ones, braying and bahhhing (which made me smile). Then there was your nod to reality vs nativity to draw the skeptics in too. Excellent!


    Good Morning John,
    Very good devotionals this morning, the “Word” became flesh indeed when Jesus was born in Bethlehem. and He is with us every day.
    I wish you and yours a Blessed Christmas.


    Thanks John,
    We all need to be reminded that the details are often not nearly as important as how something makes us feel … and what could be better than feeling (and knowing) that Jesus is right there alongside us all the time.
    Blessings.


    Greetings John,
    Thank you for contributing this devotional. So many ways we can be touched by the word of God and especially this time of year when special services celebrating the birth of Jesus bring to light the depth of His word.
    Blessings,
    (B.C.)


    I enjoyed this devotional very much. I forwarded it to half a dozen of my friends. I too am a science minded person of faith. I just ignore the dissonance most of the time but I loved your insight about the nativity play and how the people’s relationship to that story and the person of Jesus is what is important and meaningful.
    Thank you for sharing!


    Hi John,
    I always get a little bothered when we witness the Christmas plays because the magi didn’t visit Jesus until he was a young boy living in a house in Bethlehem. (Matthew 2:11) It would be good if the two instances could be separated into two different scenes showing more biblical accuracy.
    However it still beautiful to see children playing the parts and giving glory to God.
    Blessings this Christmas.


    John,
    What a blessing that you have young people in your congregation. In our small town the only church with significant young people is the Baptist church that employs a full-time youth pastor and he is quite a fine fellow. Sometimes I find myself a bit envious of the Baptists, and then I remind myself that those kids are in church and learning and that is a blessing.
    Thank you for your thoughts.
    (Texas)


    Good morning John Carr: You don’t know me and I have never far heard of you before; but I feel a kinship with you that extends far beyond my 85 years of life. It is eternal, because it doesn’t matter how we tell the story, nor how accurate the sequences are; what matters that the “Jesus story” is told. God then takes our offering of service and makes the reality real to those who hear it. And I want to say thank you for telling us your version of the understanding of that story. God bless you and give you a wonderful holiday time this year. You have enriched mine.
    (Alberta)


    Thank you, John. I really enjoyed reading your reflection.


    Dear John Carr,
    Thank you for sharing the progression of your thoughts about the Christmas Pageant here below. I agree with you.
    So much of the real meaning of Jesus Christ’s coming into the world comes to us in these Christmas celebrations.
    Thank you for being an encourager rather than a critic.