Twas the Night before Christmas & Theater

So, I have 5 amazing children who are doing a performance of Twas the Night Before Christmas.

TwasJoy, Joy, Joy!

This is where the spirit of the season is…let me tell you

1. The kids have come to practically every rehearsal (I tried to keep them reasonable). I am amazed at their commitment

2. The kids have synergy! We have played all sorts of games and learned all kinds of theater skills, and they are definitely in tune with each other

3. Each child is unique! Coming from 4 different families, representing broad socio-economic and cultural perspectives it is a joy to see how representative of the community these kids are…(we have a half Hispanic-Half African-American Child, an adopted Asian Child and Three Caucasian children all from different types of homes)

4. They (almost) know their lines, and we are 3 weeks from the actual performance

5. They LOVE rehearsing “Can we do it again?” “Can we sing more?” “What else are we going to add?” are just some of their questions. They seem to ALWAYS have fun.

6. They are helping with everything! Devoting time to drawing pictures, creating bios and planning the party, each kid is committed to help out.

Last time I did a Charlie Brown Christmas–the adults performed it to 150 people, with squirmy children, a group home and many community members in attendance. It was a huge success, we collected a cartload (well really a pickup truck load) of nonperishable food (the price of admission)…That we have now asked the boys scouts to help us out, in case this year is as good (or better) a success….

But I have to say…this play is already a success, no matter how many people come, no matter how many shelter goods we collect, the kids are coming together and doing Christmas…Being Christmassed together

In the midst of worry about the future (protests re: Ferguson & NYC come to mind), these children Incarnate the HOPE, PEACE, JOY and LOVE of the season! They are my human Advent Wreath, bringing their warmth and light of the season home. Its amazing how a Christmas Play can bring Jesus home.

That’s What Christmas is All About…

In a devious plan to do ministry, I convinced my session to put forth the money to sponsor a performance of “Charlie Brown Christmas.” Although we are not the first church to do it as a show, we may be the first ones to do it as a Food Drive (maybe laying the groundwork for years to come?). We are taking in cans and donations for a food pantry

After much agonizing over the casting (ie I don’t know where the theater people live yet) we finally have a cast! Anyway we read through the play and are now working on character development (which is so totally THEOLOGY disguised as analysis HA)

We explored Charlie Brown’s search for the meaning of Christmas. Its not that he doesn’t know what Christmas is about, but that he can’t feel it alone…and in the lack of all his companions feeling it (ie commercialism) means that he has nowhere to grasp onto it.

For 3 years in seminary I worked at a Psychiatric Hospital. When I was there I did assessments, and during these assessments we would ask if the patient had hope (since hope helps recovery). Many patients said that they didn’t have hope….but they were hoping for it. Hoping for Hope! That is, what I think Charlie Brown is doing.

In fact, I believe that is why we need the church, to be a placeholder for those times we don’t feel hope or love or faith. If we don’t have the wherewithall to do it, the community does it for us until we are ready!

Anyway, if you notice, Charlie Brown is looking for that feeling. Watch Charlie Brown Christmas, where is the first place he goes after he confesses to his depression? That’s right smart people, his mailbox. He is searching for some kind of connection.

In fact, I think the reason why Charlie Brown agrees to direct the play is because Lucy tells him she would help him giving him some sense of direction…the problem being that even in the midst of the crowd, Charlie Brown is ignored, unnoticed and worst of all lonely

In fact, anyone who struggles with depression or is dealing with a loss knows that there is this kind of loneliness that can be felt in the crowd. Some churches are starting to hold “quiet Christmas” or “Blue Christmas” services for those people who don’t in fact enjoy the holidays, but want some place to be emotionally present in the season.

This is not just a problem for people who are in sad circumstances…In fact, in this day and age loneliness often looks like business–between social media and work running around like crazy we are all too busy for Christmas. This loneliness, however, is part of what Christ came to deal with. Christ came to be Emmanuel–God with us–so we would never have to be alone again.

It is only thru a personal connection fasciliated by the love of Christ (yes I’m talking about the famous “That’s what Christmas is all about speech”) followed by some quiet time of real contemplation (one might even call it prayer) that Charlie Brown is able to realize the meaning of Christmas.

The meaning of which was meaningless, until all of his friends connected with him as well!

And that, my friends, is what Christmas is all about

So if you are in the Albany, NY area Dec 14 & 15 @6pm and Dec 16 @4pm come down to New Covenant Presbyterian at 916 Western Ave–and share with us the true meaning of Christmas!

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