Full Version: Christmas pageants, good & bad
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What do you think of the yearly Christmas pageant performed in many churches, where the shepherds often wear bathrobes, and a painfully skinny young boy sporting a pasted beard is playing Joseph? Where the angels have tin foil wings and more often than not, the acting is really bad? [Note: I've been involved in some of these.]

On occasion, I have seen these pageants beautifully, extravagantly, and artfully done and acted, (one of those included a live camel!) but that is the exception, not the norm.

Why is this done year after year? What do you see as the value of all the intensive rehearsals and costuming and prop frenzies? Do you do them in your church? Are you involved? Do you have good memories of being in Christmas pageants from your childhood?

Also, I've noticed a trend (at least in the adult arena of Christmas pageant presentation) where the passion and resurrection is also part of the nativity pageant. What do you think about that? Is it a good idea? Appropriate or not?
I think it's a wonderful tradition and all the more wonderful for all the painfully shy little ones who have to be prompted, the shepherd who ends up facing the wrong way, the Herod who gets his beard in his mouth and can't speak, not to mention the angel who misses her cue and ends up in tears! To me, that's where all the magic is!

A church I was going to down in Essex did a pantomime version. Nativity+Aladin="A Lad In A Manger"!!

Our leader was head of arts and music at his senior school (12=16 year olds for US!!) but he was well into the whole thing. We had some of the guys in the church make wonderful scenery, ladies made costumes and others put together a lighting rig and sound system and even got our music on a cd (this was 1997). It was a musical! Among the songs we sung was "Thorns in the Straw" which I still can't listen to without getting choked up thinking about that wonderful night!

We were rehearsed to within an inch of our lives. Our leader (with a full face beard) played the lead which was Widow Twanky, complete with wig, bonnet and crinoline dress - deserved an Oscar for that, he did! But we thought maybe he enjoyed wearing the dresses a little too much!). A great lady in an electric wheelchair played the Angel Gabriel and I ended up as the Widow's dim daughter Ruth - a performance that earned me the distinction of being thought a member of the local 'special needs' dramatic group!

We invited the entire neighborhood and it seemed like almost all of them came because the place was packed to the ceiling! We started with games and fun and after the panto had a message about what Christmas really means. We finished with prayers and then served drinks and mincepies.

Don't know if we actually saved any souls that night but from conversations had afterwards, it certainly gave a lot of the people food for thought. Who knows, perhaps we sowed some seeds? We certainly had a whale of a time doing it.
Sounds like you've had some good experiences and great fun doing christmas pageants.

I can't say my own experiences have been that positive. I remember being made to be a part of a lot of dreary traditional versions as a child, and generally avoid those now when I can.

When I've helped produce christmas pageants, I've tried to do something that gives a fresh focus or treats a part of the story in an innovative way. For instance, one year we used a sublime orchestral version of "Greensleeves" as the background for a mimed vignette of the Holy Family traveling to Bethlehem, and portrayed the Holy Spirit (with a dancer) blessing and leading them, preparing the way for them. Not a word spoken, but using the imageries of character and costuming to tell the story. It was very elegant and powerful.

Personally I don't like it when the christmas pageantry includes the passion/resurrection message. It's just so emotionally wrenching to me to have to relive the passion when I've come to an event that I thought was going to be a celebration of the nativity. I understand that the motivation is to present the whole gospel message to unbelievers that might attend the christmas play, but please.....it's just too much. I've seen very effective altar calls given at the manger without having to deal with the whole story.
<QUOTE author="HelenaZF,Oct 13 2006, 08:52 PM">
HelenaZF,Oct 13 2006, 08:52 PM Wrote:Personally I don't like it when the christmas pageantry includes the passion/resurrection message. It's just so emotionally wrenching to me to have to relive the passion when I've come to an event that I thought was going to be a celebration of the nativity.
Yep, she's my wife, and we don't always agree, but I'm with her on this one.

I enjoy subtle. Do you? For me, viewing the normal depiction of the Bethlehem star as a four pointed cross is plenty suggestive enough. The symbolism of that star is that He came to reach the four corners of the earth. I know that. That can be enough to launch a great little altar call, and to bring the cross into the mix. "He came not just to live as a man among men, fully God, yet fully man, He came to die as a sacrifice for my sin--and yours. Will you allow His sacrifice to cover your sins that you might live as Christ among men?"

Subtle, succinct, sufficient, IMO. But then, I'm not usually invited to give the altar calls...