We just had our Christmas program on Sunday, and this was my first year to lead it. Last year I helped the middle school kids learn their parts and ran the sound system, but this year it became my baby. When the time came for us to start planning the program everyone started asking who was going to lead the program, by default all eyes turned to me. I had figured this would happen but I wasn't going to volunteer until I had to. I have a problem of not being able to say no to people, and when you can tell in their eyes that they consider it part of your job it makes it even harder. Then you throw in the fact that a Christmas program is partially theatrical, and I LOVE theatre, I said I would do it. I dug through my desk and found an old script and asked around to see when was the last time it was done. As I read the script is seemed very familiar.
'Twas the Night Before, was the script I decided on. I typed it up so the kids could highlight their parts and we could change the songs and things if we needed to. I sent out emails and told the kids when to show up to practice. We practiced 7 times before the kids performed on Sunday. I left almost every rehearsal with no voice and just wanted to go to bed. This variety of ages that just wanted to play after school and talk and just have fun was wearing me down. The problem was that I viewed this as just part of my job. Another thing that wasn't in my job description when I signed on but was tacked on after (there seems to be a lot of that).
Thankfully this church has a large supply of costumes from past shows, so I pulled them all out and picked out what the kids would wear. I ended up with 3 angels, 12 little angels, 2 readers, 3 wise men, 4 shepherds, Mary & Joseph, and an exhausted & sick youth pastor (that's me). After every practice I just wanted to crawl in my bed and sleep until the new year. I'm a perfectionist, and there is no way to get perfect or even close with children....and young youth. We had a large funeral the Friday before the Christmas program so my program prep was pushed back and my normal week turned into an over 50 hour week. Not including the 10 hour day of the program.
Needless to say I was stressed, ready for the day to be over, and just viewing this event as part of my job. Well like everything when working with children and youth, it can be as organized as you want, but the moment they walk in the door things get a little chaotic. We had planned to run through the whole thing an hour before, but kids were late, and new kids showed up and it was just a little crazy. My normal reaction is to get super stressed and not enjoy any of it. But I had told myself earlier in the day that I had to at least sort of look like I enjoyed this. So I made my scrooge self listen to Christmas music while I got things ready and made myself be as calm as possible, which got harder the closer to start time we got, but if you know me, I think you would agree that I controlled my anxiety pretty well.
People started coming early like normal, and we did not get to practice, but by that point I didn't really care, the show was what it was, and then I turned around. Walking into the church were my parents and my grandma. It was all I could do not to cry out. I was so surprised, and incredibly humbled. My parents who never missed a show of my theatre career were there with camera in hand ready to enjoy another event of mine. And my grandma, the woman who directed every single Christmas Program of my memory, including this one when I was a kid was there to watch. I didn't even realize at that moment just what that meant to me. I felt bad that I had to finish dressing the kids and couldn't talk much.
Then the show started, and ran so smoothly I couldn't believe it. No, it wasn't perfect but it's a Christmas program, it's not supposed to be. I mean they're depicting the Nativity, a scene of birth, a scene of chaos, and love. Our little angels were incredibly cute and hilarious, and they tried to sing Away in the Manger while playing with their halos and trying not to cry. I couldn't help but laugh. The kids with lines remembered every single one of them, and you could actually hear most of them.
How do you not fall in love with this scene?
They were all so cute, and the music was beautiful, as I sat there, every ounce of this just being part of my job, and not part of my calling melted away. I wanted to go back and enjoy every rehearsal and every part that I found so annoying only moments before.
Then when I started to process yesterday what had just happened I found this picture.
This amazing, crazy, funny girl looks so serene as Mary. The whole day of Sunday she just wanted to hold Baby Jesus. Baby Jesus was a baby doll that I made a special trip home for. This doll that has been around forever, was Jesus in all of the programs I can remember as a child, my grandmother had purchased it because it looked so lifelike. When she moved from her house to her apartment I became the owner of Baby Jesus. The kids first thought it was creepy when I brought it in. But the day of, our Mary seemed to fall in love with this baby. She was so sad when I sent it home with my parents after the show.
It is amazing how when you give something the name of Jesus, it becomes special and revered. This could be the ugliest baby doll in the world but I will always cherish it as Baby Jesus, because that is the name we gave it, and the purpose it was given. This has me thinking that, if I would have gone into this program doing it in the name of Jesus, my attitude would have been so different. My job is ministry, but when I lose focus of the calling that provides my paycheck and it turns into a job then I lose sight of the reason that I do it. I may not be called to specifically Children's ministry, but I'm called to the ministry of Christ, and children are a huge part of that, and children eventually become youth. So now I look forward to the planning of the Christmas program next year, and my attitude is changing towards some of these ministries I
have get to do.
There is power in the name of Jesus:
- baby dolls go from being creepy to beautiful
- jobs become callings
- mountains crumble
- people change
Jesus is more than the reason for this Holiday Season. He is the reason we are here, and we are blessed. He is the reason we get to wake up each day with the hope of tomorrow. He is the reason we are handed the gift of grace and mercy over and over and over again. He is the reason behind my life, and should be focus for every single thing I do. Jesus!
These awesome kiddos got me these flowers...and I had a hard time not crying when they game them to me. "Best Director Ever".... more like "Best Kids Ever!"