Should the Advent season be “Pageant Season?”
Angels and Shepherds and Kings, Oh My! Ah yes, Pageant season is “all up ons”.
As I sit down to write the script for our church’s annual Christmas pageant, I am reminded that a lot of work goes into re-creating the Christmas story. Every year I wonder why the children, youth, parents and Christian Educator spend so much time on this one event, indeed the whole of Advent culminates with our Pageant. Why?
Sometimes I wonder if it is all worth it, but deep down I think the Christmas Pageant, in all its glory, is one of the best events, indeed ministries, of the Holiday season. The pageant tells the story of the birth of Christ, it allows the children to lead and to shine, and allows the congregation to connect in ways they don’t on a normal Sunday morning. The pageant is a great ministry, but it doesn’t always seem that way.
Should the Advent season be the “Pageant Season?”…….
Even in our bleakest moments of pageant practice, there is a sense of pride, excitement and giving within the youth and children as we plan our Christmas pageant. They are proud to be able to perform. They are excited to say funny lines and put on costumes. They extend a gift to the congregation as they share the good news of Jesus’ coming. And the congregation eats it up. We love their giving nature, the care and commitment they put into the pageant and the story they tell us each year of love, joy, and hope.
Every year. EVERY YEAR. I am overcome with joy, pride and thanksgiving for the amazing bunch of young people who are willing to put themselves out there, share the story of Christ, and have fun doing it. The pageant gives them voice in the congregation and a chance to lead worship. The pageant builds relationship; those who otherwise have no relationship with the children and youth can shake the hand of each one, express gratitude for them, and walk away with a shared memory of Christmas time.
Still, every year I wonder…
I wonder if I am robbing the children and youth of the season of Advent by filling it with pageant practice instead of Christian Education
I wonder if the pageant is more of a spectacle than a worship experience
I wonder if all of the children and youth are doing it for themselves or are doing it to please another.
I wonder if I have co-opted the Advent season and made it the “Pageant Season”…
This year, to curb some of my inhibitions about the “Pageant Season”, I, along with the youth group, have addressed some of my concerns.
Before each pageant practice (whether it is for youth or children) a meal will be served. During which, the participants will have a chance to explore the meaning, celebrate the season, and deepen their faith for Advent.
The pageant this year will include hilarious lines written by the youth, and silly activities like passing out halos; but it will also include the reading of scripture, the witness of our young voices, and ways for the congregation to respond to what they are experiencing.
The youth and children will all be involved (as much as they want to) and this year, parents and adults are welcome to be a part of the cast!
The theme this year will focus on Peace and will come from the youth and children’s understanding and theology of peace. They will be given the chance to teach.
Finally, as always, we extend hospitality by welcoming any child or youth who shows up on Pageant Sunday (December 13th! BE THERE!) the opportunity to participate in the festivities. We will provide extra costumes, scripts, and a buddy to guide them throughout the performance.
I wonder what else we might do?
How do Christmas Pageants happen in your congregation? What are your hesitations? What do you L-O-V-E? Any good ideas for costume making or set design?
Tell me more about the ways that Christmas Pageants (or any spectacle of children and youth) can become ministries rather than performances. Tell me how our celebration of the season can truly honor the amazing kids and youth we have and the gifts and story they have to share.