This year Pastor Keith and I were asked to participate in the Drive-Thru Live Nativity at our church. Those organizing this event could not have known how special it was to be asked. I haven’t been asked to play Mary in a long time. After all, Mary was a teenager. That is not what made it special. It was special because it brought back floods of memories from past Christmas pageants and plays from my childhood and my children’s childhood. I think back on the countless sets and costumes made, lines memorized, songs sung, and choreography practiced. However, it was the joy experienced by everyone involved that I hold on to most of all. We were not only joining in a collective experience, but we were celebrating a story with eternal significance for all those who believe.
When I arrived at the rehearsal this year, I was handed a costume. I fashioned the cloth, just so, on my head. I had done this many times, and I just needed to get finished so I could go home to prepare for work the next day. Before I knew what happened, a tear swelled in my eye. The simple task, the plain burlap cloth, the inexpensive blue fabric – It all stirred a memory that had been tucked away. I remembered the first time I played Mary. I was five years old. Everyone in my kindergarten class was so excited to get their costumes. I watched my friends as they dressed in white. They fluttered around with wings, halos, and gold and silver necklaces. I looked at my costume. It was plain and didn’t have wings. I didn’t even have a necklace! I went straight to the teacher, who happened to be my aunt. “Something has to be done!” I thought. “I want a necklace like the other girls,” I cried. “Mary would not have worn a sparkly necklace,” my aunt explained. I did not understand, and I certainly did not care about the historical accuracy of the costume. It wasn’t fair! I wanted to sparkle too! I went home after rehearsal and rushed to my mom to explain the agonizing event. My mom pulled me close and whispered, “You don’t have to sparkle to be your best for Jesus. You have an important part. Do your best with the part you have been given.”
These words penetrated through a dark cloud that I had let settle over me this past year. How often haveI felt inadequate and insignificant as if I am dressed in burlap cloth in a cashmere world? “Ok, Lord! I’m listening,” I sobbed as I drove home that night. This glimpse of my first Nativity reminded me of why we reenact the Nativity in the first place. Knowing that He came for us all is what brings joy and peace. We don’t even have to sparkle to be a part of the story. We just need to bring ourselves.
The year of 2020 certainly has had no sparkle. We have suffered great loss. We have humbly gotten up each morning to wonder what would happen next. But isn’t that what Mary experienced? She was a servant girl who was called to do a job that did not come with fanfare and pageantry. She did it anyway despite the uncertainty and the chaos of her time. Each day she trusted in what God had promised. He fulfilled His promise then, and He will do it again.
May we all trust God and all He has promised! “The one who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24