Headlines from First Thoughts

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Harold the King

I've learned that the Christmas story has some prominent and not so significant characters. Each one is important not only to the story but also to the way we have seen the story re-enacted at the Knoxville Nativity Pageant. Not only do you get a few characters you expect-- shepherds, Mary, and Joseph, but according to Parker, Herod the King is better known as Harold.

First Baptist members and many others in the community began this event years ago. We saw the Nativity Pageant this year at the Colisseum in downtown Knoxville. This event has become part of our Advent celebrations because Parker responds to the live action, drama, simplicity, and even the friends he sees playing a part. As parents, I'm thrilled by what it does not have-- no blood, no guts, no gore. It's not overdone, overpreached, overemotionalized, oversentimentalized. It's a nice cominbation of the accounts of Matthew and Luke with the arrival of the magi conveniently at the manger so we can go home in 45 minutes.

There are a few welcome liberties taken. Not only do you see the traditional characters, but a few others that have taken on a new role at the Shiell home. Parker's buddy Zeb played a villager. He was thrilled to see that Zeb not only played a significant role-- walking in the village-- but he did two things. (1) He laid on a mat during one scene; and (2) A soldier pushed Zeb. I've checked the footnotes, checking to see if there is a pushing scene in Luke, but alas there is not. But according to Parker, because Zeb was pushed, "it's there."

When we arrived home, Parker was ready to perform his own pageant. I asked him if he wanted to be in the pageant one day. "No, Dad, I'll just do my own in the neighborhood."

"Who's going to be in it, I asked?"

So he made a list of all 14 characters that he needed and began recruiting them. Some in the Bible and some others, well, in the imagination.

Guys who get pushed- 2
Soldiers who push the guys- 2
Shepherds- 3
Magi- 3
Mary- 1
Joseph- 1
Angel- 1
Harold the King- 1

The Christmas story invites us not only to observe but to re-enact the meaning in our lives. Whether or not we don costumes, we see the imperfect characters who weclomed Jesus and realize everyone can have a part to play. We share God's perfect love with an imperfect world even if all we can remember are the moments we fall down.

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