And the Conductor was Sore Afraid
“This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12
Annual nativity pageants portrayed the humble barn where Jesus was born as a quiet, reserved setting. Dressed in bed sheets and their fathers’ oversized bathrobes, children solemnly sang Silent Night.
Then I moved to the country and had my own birth in the stable.
Drought forced a farmer to sell a soft-eyed, pregnant mare. “Like Mary,” my teens implored, “she needs someplace to have her baby.”
So this innkeeper found room for the mother-to-be. A baby monitor allowed us to hear what happened in the barn. Birds in the rafters twittered, mice scampered across hay, and horses slurped feed before rustling straw to bed down. Once asleep, the horses groaned and passed gas so loud we thought the mare was giving birth and dashed to the barn at 3:30 a.m.
Following weeks of false alarms, the baby arrived the night I was too sleep-deprived to check. What an exquisite wonder to discover a newborn in the stable.
That’s why this year’s pageant was my favorite. “Let’s have live animals,” the music director crowed.
Opening night, well-rehearsed singers took their place. “Joy to the world,” the audience sang along to words on the overhead. “Let men their sons employ.”
Choreographed to mask the noisy rearrangement of animals on stage, the pianist’s solo was a bust. The keyboard was unplugged. From behind the curtains, the audience heard the trainer smooching at the donkey who was reluctant to come on stage and more reluctant to leave.
The violinist’s microphone was off as wise men bowed before the wailing Christ child. Mary and Joseph looked holy while sheep nibbled their robes, burped, and chewed cud.
Suddenly, a runaway sheep dashed about the little town of Bethlehem. Startled, the drummer forgot to drum. The conductor paled as the speeding sheep fairly leapt into his arms.
By the second curtain call, the “g” was added to sons, keyboard and violin found plugs, and fencing was added for sheep. The following performances were flawless.
Yet opening night seemed a closer reenactment to Christ entering our boisterous, busy, and messy reality. In the midst of stillness and surprise, the unexpected and unimaginable, He is Emmanuel—Christ with us.
PeggySue Wells parasails, skydives, snorkels, scuba dives, and has taken (but not passed) pilot training. Writing from the 100-Acre wood in Indiana, Wells is the bestselling author of twenty-nine books including The Slave Across the Street, Slavery in the Land of the Free, Bonding With Your Child Through Boundaries, Homeless for the Holidays, and Chasing Sunrise. www.PeggySueWells.com.
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