Thanks to Jodi Belcher and Sarah Bentley Allred for sharing their Two Points of View on Christmas Pageants in Building Faith’s recent newsletter. Since we just completed our original Prepare: The Northwoods Get Ready (a Christmas Pageant shaped by three Minnesota congregations), this article felt familiar and important.
Jodi and Sarah began with two opposing ideas about Christmas Pageants, their worth, their stress levels, their usefulness in the faith lives of children and youth, and their potential for devaluing young people as worship leaders.
Sara writes In Favor of the (Thoughtfully Prepared) Christmas Pageant, but concedes to Jodi’s concerns.
Together, they encourage ‘Bringing Both Critical and Creative Thinking to Pageants’, including:
- Discernment Is Important
- Many Paths Can Get You to the Christmas Feast
- Lectio Divina
- Stations of the Nativity
- Pageants Can Be Respectful with Intentionality and Preparation (especially by):
- Naming What Matters
- Inclusive Decision-making and Planning
- Providing Choice
- Communicating the Worshipful Nature of the Pageant
- Congregational Participation
- A Matter of Why and How
They conclude their article:
‘The story at the center of our pageants is all about God identifying with children and empowering disempowered people. When our churches give the story a chance to speak and take on flesh – with or without a pageant – we all witness the good news of Christmas among us.’
If you’re still struggling with whether or not to include a pageant in this year’s Advent (and I know some folx are!!), the article may be really helpful.
Some other pageant tips:
- Consider waiting until Epiphany for the annual pageant:
- Folx are less stressed and less busy (often)
- It’s an excuse to keep folx engaged in congregational life post-Advent/-Christmas
- You can legitimately include the Magi (!)
- Review the Christmas Narrative when the story can really be a focal point, without the trappings and distractions of secular Christmas observances
- Double-down on the Intergenerationality tagline: get more folx involved by turning it into less of a display of young people and more of a story-telling event.
- Be sure to include interpretations of why this is important. As one young person wrote recently (writing from the perspective of a Shepherd): ‘I don’t know what’s so special about this Baby because I live under a rock. I’ll probably learn later.’ Not everyone can look at a newborn baby – whether the Child of God, fulfillment of ancient prophecies, promised Messiah, or not – and see hope, joy, peace, love and understand all these concepts and why a baby makes us think about them or experience them. Figure out why Jesus’ birth is important within and relevant to your context and share that message in your pageant – or alternative.
Read the full Building Faith post here.
Find Christmas Pageant ideas here.
Interested in the new Prepare: The Northwoods Get Ready Christmas Pageant from Minnesota? Send Emily an email of request.