Christmas performance makes religion personal

Judy Brandon: Local Columnist

All of the children’s Christmas programs scheduled for December remind me of the time I participated in the Flat Creek Baptist Church Christmas play. It really wasn’t a play, but a simple program with several of the farm children who lived in the area.

On this particular pre-Christmas Sunday, Susie had strep throat so mother stayed at home in Kansas City, Mo., with her. Daddy and I made the trip to Flat Creek. I remember I wore my flannel shirt and jeans. Back then we wouldn’t think about wearing jeans to church (that shows you how old I am) but on this day it was justified because a winter storm had brought temperatures way below freezing.

That Sunday night, about eight children were to tell the Christmas story by reading it from the Bible. We were all planning to add the best dramatic touch that we could.

My part was about the angels and shepherds on the hillside. It was Luke chapter 2, verses 8 to 14. I was to say “And there were shepherds living out in the fields, nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.

But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying ‘Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace good will toward men.’” I practiced and practiced. I wanted to make sure that if someone made a mistake it would not be me.

That night we children took our places on the tiny church stage.
Candles glimmered on the table in front of the pulpit as we faced a small group of parents that made up the audience. One child began the story and then another. We got Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the innkeeper saying there was no room and finally the birth of Jesus.

When it came to my part, an unusual thing happened. We had no props, animals or costumes. It was not a high tech performance, not videotaped nor did we have an orchestra or fancy lighting. We were just far out in a little country church surrounded by freezing temperatures and snow.

Yet when I said, “you will find a baby…” I was overtaken with the most wonderful feeling. After all these years, the wonder that I felt as I said those words is still crystal-clear in my mind — so real and so wondrous.

We didn’t astound the world that night with our little performance. We got no awards, critical reviews or standing ovations. We didn’t have trouble seating the people.  

But on that night I personalized that event in Bethlehem that changed the world. When I met Christ in a real way, that baby found me and Bethlehem became personal for me. I was proclaiming an event that spiritually affected me and for the first time, I understood that.

Daddy and I started home. I do remember it was very dark, snowing again and really cold. I felt safe because my Daddy was driving and I felt contented because I knew that Baby Jesus was in my heart.

Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at:
cbrandon@plateautel.net