One night in Bethlehem changed the world

By Judy Brandon: Local columnist

I will always remember the Flat Creek Baptist Church Christmas play many years ago.

It really was a simple program, with several of the children who lived in that rural area. We were to tell the Christmas story at night on the Sunday before Christmas.

On this Sunday, 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. It was cold and we were going to a little country church that knew little of fashion and cared less for the latest styles. So mother dressed me in a flannel shirt and jeans. It was justified because a winter storm had brought temperatures way below freezing.

On Sunday night, about eight of us were to tell the Christmas story by reading it from the Bible. 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 and practiced. I wanted to make sure that if someone made a mistake on the Christmas story, it would not be me.

The time came. We sang Christmas carols and then we took our places on the tiny stage of the church. Candles glimmered on the table in front of the pulpit. One child started and then others followed. We got Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem, the innkeeper declaring no room and then 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. It was not videotaped, we did have an orchestra and no fancy lighting-just far out in the country in a little country church and freezing temperatures and snow.

Yet when I said, “you will find a baby…” I was overtaken with the most wonderful feeling. 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.

Why did it mean so much to me? I believe that I recognized when I said those words that I was just a small result of that wonderful night in Bethlehem that changed the world. It was the birth of Jesus. 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 touched my heart and for the first time, Daddy and I started home.

Down that dark Missouri country road, it was dark, snowing again and cold. Yet, I felt safe because my daddy was driving and I was contented because I knew that Jesus was in my heart.

Judy Brandon is a Clovis resident. Contact her at: