Yesterday I had the opportunity of being one of the drivers of my daughter’s school field trip for first and second graders. We went and saw ‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.’ Our church presented the musical last year and both times I’ve seen this production I have been very challenged by it. The story involves a small town church that every year does a children’s Christmas Pageant. The same kids seem to always have the same parts and it had definitely become very routine. One of the kids ‘messes’ everything up when he invites the Herdmans to church. The Herdmans are a rag-tag group of kids who come from a divorced home, live off of well-fare and basically fend for themselves. They are known all over town as wild trouble-makers. They wind up coming to church and being in the Christmas play. It becomes apparent that the Herdmans know nothing about the Bible and have never heard the Christmas story.
So the play becomes a very refreshing look at the Christmas story through the fresh eyes of the Herdman kids. When production time finally rolls around they put a few of their own non-traditional twists on some of the parts like burping the baby doll representing Jesus and adding a little more pizazz to the angel of the Lord who appears to the Shepherds. One of my favorite scenes is when the three wiseman appear (all played by Herdmans). They march in and kneel before Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus. Instead of presenting the traditional gold, frankincense, and myrrh they set down a ham that came from their well-fare food ration. It was a gift from their heart and it was all they really had as they figured a family who had been traveling for days, had to sleep out in a stable and lay a baby in an animal feed trough would probably be hungry. Of course a pork product may not have been the greatest food item to present to a Jewish family, but it was the thought that counts.
In Matthew Chapter 9 it says, ’11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ [a] For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” I think this is a great challenge for us, especially at Christmas time. Who are the Herdmans in our neighborhood or town? Who is that person or family that we could invite to a Christmas party, or to a Christmas Eve service, or take a risk and get to know and share the real meaning of Christmas with? After all the Christmas story is truly ‘good news of great joy for all people’ and there are still alot of people all around you and I that have yet to hear, understand and be invited. Let’s dare to take this wonderful message of hope and love beyond our normal places of comfort.