Bethlehem: Good News of Great Joy!
I'll never tire of seeing wiggly little actors and singers telling the birth of Jesus story. Smiling at mommy and daddy, becoming a star for the first time, sweetly singing o'er the plain "Glory to God in the highest" in high little voices. I melt seeing the wonder in their faces (look at little Jessica with her hands poised in worship). The children are so happy to let us know about a new born baby. Children love babies. And this one is "baby Jesus."
At Fellowship Evangelical Covenant Church (pictures above), the ancient story is told fresh, dripping with the sparkling excitement of "God with us." Mary (Aimee) and Joseph (Clay) are poised over the manger with the baby Jesus there...right there! And as the wee angel choir sings with fuzzy halos held up by wire in their hair, the big people appear--the wise men (Rick is one) bearing their gifts and shepherds (Jack is one) in rehearsed excitement to tell the world the news.
Adults and children are swept up for a moment in more than a story; they are carried on the strong tide of a movement--a new king has arrived and a people will be delivered, discovered. All kinds of people with angel light in their eyes and God-news on their lips, scurry all over the land talking about Jesus of Nazareth, Messiah, Emmanuel, Savior of the world.
During the transition of scenes, a scrambling boy bumps the microphone over and a loud thump! is heard throughout the land. Is that a "Burger King" crown on one of the wise men? Are those Florsheims on the feet of that shepherd? Mary looks so young and pretty and peeks into the box the wise man brought. Shy voices whisper words that have changed lives and nations.
We, the audience, sing songs while wiping our eyes from tears of love and laughter. For this menagerie of happy, squirmy children and willingly-costumed adults tell us once again about the surprising wonder of God's great love.
Tucked away in a little Michigan church far from Hollywood, on a set made of cardboard and straw framed with blazing poinsettias, a cast tells the story. Heaven is hushed; angels (the real ones) peer down and Jesus Himself smiles, I think, at Shelby and Sammy, Ashleigh and Aimee, Jay and Rachel, Jack and Lisa, Dan and Brandon, Clay and little Jessica, and all the rest.
"That is my story," I think Jesus says, "and they are making it their story. Glory to God in the highest."