For folks that direct Christmas programs I truly believe there is a special place in heaven-one with clouds padding the walls and harp music piped in through the vents to sooth the frazzled nerves that come with the holy territory.
Yes, I’m a director and this is a hope I am banking on. Part of me I truly loves the process and the thrill of the big night as the kids and the Holy Spirit pull off the impossible. Tears come to my tears and my heart swells as children become some of God’s most effective missionaries. They tell His story to people who would not be caught in a church except to pay respects at a funeral. Camera wielding grandparents, aunts, uncles, and neighbors wouldn’t dare miss little Buffy as an angel are hearing the story once again.
But, me getting to that place is almost as big of challenge as Joseph getting Mary to Bethlehem on the 8-9 day time frame. In the movie Simon Birch, the Christmas program director, played by Jan Hooks, is me in a 1960’s bee hive and cat-eyed glasses. A vein permanently pops out of her forehead, and the fingers start snapping as they morph into ‘the point’ of the index finger the minute the shepherds start sword fighting with their crooks. Chaos reigns supreme as her blood pressure rises until hairs spring out of the lacquer like Medusa’s reptiles coming to life. She is frazzled and worn to the point of escaping out a side door to chain-smoke. Our only difference is I threaten to chug whiskey and pop Valium like a rock star. No, this job is not for the faint of heart.
Now, I don’t want to give the impression that sparkles of encouragement are totally absent during these times. Huge lessons appear around every manger. I must share mine for this year. I did not change my actor’s name to protect his innocence as he would beat me with the shepherd’s stick if I didn’t give him top billing in this post.
Seth is around 8 and is destined to someday have a star on the Walk of Fame in Hollywood. One of 9 boys, the flair for drama is how he makes his presence known. The play is a court case where the shepherds have been brought in on the charges of disturbing the peace. Seth is our dancing bailiff, who not only has a fun solo dance reminiscent of Johnny Teriro on Dance Fever, but his part is sprinkled throughout the entire production. To nail down his part, we had a private practice in which he embraced the part so much, I almost had to take his night stick away. It started with his opening dance.
“Kelly, how about I take off down the steps and run clear down the aisle to the back and turn around and come back?”
“I like that idea a lot, but how about just going to the second pew and coming back? You won’t have time to race clear back there and come back.”
(Seth: one hand on hip, other on chin with pensive look and nodding.) “Ok, I can see what you are saying…”
We journey on with his part until there is a lull in his action. “Hey, Kelly, how about I go over to the shepherds and say “Listen you shepherds, you’ve been disturbing the peace and I’m hauling you in.” (Actually I think he had about 6 more sentences, but can’t remember them all. I was scrambling to figure out how to divert his stampede of ideas.)
“Well, it’s all on CD so we can’t really add any lines.”
Same stance from Seth as the wheels in his head were spinning with ideas of how he could get some more action.
Another boy came in with a big part, so we threw him in the mix. Seth had to stand there as we worked through Braeden’s part. He was BORED to tears and so distracted, he would miss his cues for swearing-in witnesses. When I would say, “They are calling in a witness. What are you supposed to do?” He would roll his eyes and kind of slink to the stand.
Not to give up, he suggested “What if I brought fake handcuffs and cuffed those shepherds and hauled them off to jail?” His eyes were dancing with this idea of sheer genius. “Seth, that won’t really work because the shepherds are set free. They had a good reason for disturbing the peace-Jesus was born!” After some thought he not sold on this idea it was better than his, so he complied.
Little did he know, but his enthusiasm he made my day!
Then I realised how much I am like Seth. I have all set in my head at how I think God should use me in a role. When my script is not full of action that I love, I try to figure out how I can finagle more of a starring role. It doesn’t matter if I have had the headliner dance, when it comes to ‘just’ paying attention and waiting for the rest of the story to play out, I get bored and go into more of an advisory role to the Director. Call me “Holy Spirit Jr” when God wants me to just do the job He has assigned me. I get to thinking I can make His perfect plan ‘better’. When he reigns in this runaway donkey and I fully comply, the story marches on like a masterfully orchestrated ballet, making a better tale than I could ever have cooked up on my best day.
Lord, to you be all the glory! Help us to trust your plan and may you get a kick out of our enthusiasm as we serve whatever purpose you have for us. Thank you for the priveledge of serving you–including the blessing of being a part of these precious events.
(PS-The Not-So-Silent Night will be Sunday Night at 7pm at the Medicine Lodge United Methodist Church. Be sure and come out and encourage these very talented young thespians.)