Christmas pageants hand on the faith…or help restore it

Last evening, I was talking to a friend, whose little boy is going to be a king in his church’s annual Christmas pageant. Mum, who is a generous volunteer and knows her way around a sewing machine, had just finished his costume along with those for half a dozen angels, who will be the chic-est heavenly messengers on the east side of Manhattan.

This brought me back to my pageant days many years ago in that very same parish. Our pageant was an extravaganza, directed by a Sister of Charity who could have taught Star Wars director J.J. Abrams a thing or two. My mother, another talented seamstress, used to note with sarcasm that the costumes my two sisters and I brought home to be “freshened up a bit” were usually in rags. She reckoned that by the time we three graduated, she had made over every costume save those of the carolers, whose Victorian outfits were rented, and the cassocks for the pope and two bishops. Yes, you read that right. These three were the climax of the pageant, following the flags of the nations of the world.  You had to be there.

If you are a baby boomer from East Manhattan, you know exactly which church pageant to which I refer. You might have been in it. Sooner or later, everyone in the school had a part because the cast was huge. You might even remember your lines and everyone else’s as well, because Sister rehearsed us relentlessly.

Today’s world is so jaded, with all the terrorism, poverty and divisiveness. It’s really a tonic, as another friend of mine would say, to go to a Christmas pageant. It doesn’t matter whether any of your relatives or friends is in the pageant. The joy comes from seeing the Nativity narrative come to life in the faces and voices of little children.

Check around and see which parishes are doing pageants and make plans to attend, even if you don’t know anyone there. Better yet, bring a friend, maybe someone who hasn’t been to church in a while. Children are great healers of unhappy hearts. And they are marvelous natural catechists. So…

“…let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.”

Happy Christmas.

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