“I’ll never do this again!” I grumble to myself just before the start of our annual Sunday School hosted worship service before Christmas. These were again my thoughts after a few of my star actors didn’t show up for the final dress rehearsal. And more nerve wracking still, we got a few extras at the last minute to assign parts to; they showed up with no experience at all.
This year we planned a simpler skit called Jesus’ Christmas Party, which is the Nativity scene from the perspective of the Innkeeper. Several of us had been practicing this during our Sunday school classes in December.
With my own children now in college and their peers similarly gone, we graduated a once well-oiled machine for these “big Sunday” skits and pageants in the past. With most of my previously well-trained recruits aged out, I was left with a new group from age 13 down to age 1. How in the world can these kids lead a meaningful service? This will be a disaster. What is more, many of the older children are very shy and don’t even want a speaking part. So, I got a few college students to help them out. Squeak, Squeak, Squeak, the 3-year-old has shoes with little noise makers in them for each step she takes. Wow, this is the biggest crowd we have had in church all year long – here to witness the biggest flop in my 10 years of putting on such youth led services.
I told our pastor, “This one will be shaky; I’ll need you to fill in when things don’t go as planned.” I turned on the video camera in the balcony and hoped for the best. At the time, I was very worried we would never pull it off. Our Christmas ballerina isn’t ready; put the piano player on first. We need to change the order of the skits since we need extra time to dress everyone up in the traditional shepherd, angel and wise person costumes. We started with 2 wise men, and somehow ended up with 4 (close enough); the shepherds and angels have no idea what to do. “Never again, never again”, kept going through my mind. People are not ready in their costumes; we need to delay. The congregation must be getting anxious. No one will be able to hear the lines of the soft spoken shy kids. Urgh!!
Later that day, I watched the video of what really happened. Each time we were delayed or going out of order, Pastor Laurie filled in the gaps, and those shy kids had come out of their shells. Their parents were thrilled and our church family loved it. This was once again very special and our own little Christmas miracle. I’m sure we will do it again this summer, after all.
Tom Ward is, a Ruling Elder and Clerk of Session at the First Presbyterian Church of Highland, plus a Sunday school teacher and amateur Christmas skit director.