Pageant performance led to spiritual understanding

By Judy Brandon: Local Columnist

One Christmas as a child, I participated in the Flat Creek Baptist Church Christmas play. It was really a simple program with the farm children in the area whose families attended that church. We were to tell the Christmas story.

On that day, my sister Susie had strep throat so my mother stayed at home in Kansas City with her. Daddy and I made the trip to Flat Creek. I remember I wore a flannel blouse and jeans because Mother said it would be so frigid since a winter storm had brought freezing temperatures.

That night, about eight of us 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. 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.’” (Luke 2:8-14)

I practiced because if someone made a mistake on the Christmas story, it would not be me.

The time came. We sang Christmas carols and then we children took our places on the tiny platform of the country church. Candles glimmered on the table in front of the pulpit. A great crowd was not there that night but we had an audience. One child started out the story and then others took it up. We got Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, and the innkeeper saying there was no room and then the birth of Jesus.

When it came to my part, an unusual thing happened. We had no props, no animals, no costumes. It was not a high-tech performance by anyone’s standards. It was not videotaped, nor did we have an orchestra or fancy lighting — just far out in the country 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. It is still vivid in my mind. It was unexpected, yet seemed so real and so wondrous.

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

Now as an adult I think back and believe that night I recognized that wonderful night in Bethlehem had 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. It was dark and snowing again. I felt safe because my daddy was driving and just contented because I knew that Baby was in my heart.

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