This year, my friends, Christie, Beth and Amy, decided, in lieu of gifts, we'd "make a memory" as our Christmas celebration. We all love the theater and after a failed attempt to get to the Derby Dinner Playhouse performance of White Christmas, we opted for a Saturday brunch and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. It just doesn't get much better than that.
For those who don't know the story written by Barbara Robinson (you need to check that book out of the library and read it if you haven't), it's the story of a rowdy family named the Herdman's. A brood of uncontrollable bullies that all the children stay away from. Their only refuge from the Herdman's? Church...except when someone brags to a Herdman that they get treats in Sunday School and the next week the whole crew shows up...just in time for the announcement of casting for the Christmas Pageant.
What ensues is somewhat predictable, but tugs at your heart strings just the same. The Herdmans hear the story of Jesus' birth for the very first time and those that have heard it told year after year have a new appreciation for the true Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus. The transformation is seen not only in the Herdmans, but all the people involved in the retelling of the greatest birth of all. As I sat there weepy-eyed as Luke 2 was read, I was reminded of the simple truths of that story. And, how Jesus came for the raggedy and unruly, not just for the prim and proper.
As we left the theater, I was happy to know I wasn't the only one who shed a few tears. I can always count on Amy being my softie partner in crime. But, I was quick to notice a Dad sitting in front of me quickly wiping his eyes as the lights came up. This was just the way we'd hoped to make a memory.
After our group picture to validate we were there, we headed to the elevator to get to our car. Surrounding us were tons of special needs children and adults along with their chaperones. The patient leader was trying to coordinate all the groups and make sure no one strayed away. My heart was touched again. These sweet, innocent and helpless people would never have experienced that show today without merciful and giving people willing to go the extra mile to plan and oversee this outing. These folks with Down's Syndrome or other mental issues may have grasped very little of the play they just experienced. And most of us would dismiss their need to go for that very reason. But like the Herdmans, raggedy, unruly and simply not like us, they soaked in the love of those that let them do something we all take for granted.
The Baby that was born, giving us the reason we celebrate this holiday, came for all the world.....even the least of these. I hear Linus whispering in my ear, "That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." ....quickly followed by Gladys Herdman proclaiming...."HEY....unto you a Child is Born.....He's in the barn...go see Him." I hope you spend some time at the manger this Christmas season.