Baby Jesus was stolen. Well, not the real Jesus, but the baby doll that played Jesus in the annual Christmas pageant at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in 2009. This didn’t happen in a rehearsal. It happened during what one longtime church member said after the service was “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.”
My son Charlie, who was 2 years old at the time, made his acting debut that was worthy of receiving an Academy Award, or maybe it was more like an audition for Saturday Night Live. The pageant director, Bunchie Engel, cast Charlie as a sheep and his role was to crawl around the manger as the Christmas story was told.
It was improvisation at its finest. Instead of crawling around the crib, Charlie decided crawl to the manger and take a peek at baby Jesus. That’s when the trouble started.
Charlie grabbed baby Jesus and walked away with the doll tucked in his arms. Thankfully, one of the shepherds, whose job was to watch his flock, actually had to go to work. The shepherd used his crook and stopped Charlie. Baby Jesus had been rescued and “laid down his sweet head.”
Once again, we listened to the Christmas story. As the storyline began to shift from the message of hope to the message of persistence, Charlie returned to the manger. I wondered if the shepherds had to work this hard at the original nativity scene?
Of course, Charlie was caught again and baby Jesus returned to sleep.
As I sat in the pew laughing almost uncontrollably, I started to wonder if Bunchie Engel somehow miscast my son. Did the Energizer Bunny appear at the original nativity? Well, he did at this Christmas pageant because for the third time Charlie returned to the manger. This time he succeeded. The shepherds put down their crooks and gave up on their mischievous little sheep.
That’s when Charlie began to take off baby Jesus’ clothes. I’ve read the Christmas story numerous times and don’t recall the following line that Charlie suddenly shouted to the little girls dressed as angels.
“He’s naked,” Charlie told the angels as he held the unclothed baby Jesus above his head.
The little girl angels didn’t quite know how to respond. I felt sorry, or more like great respect for the narrator who continued to read the story my son refused to follow.
Furthermore, I’m pretty sure a sheep who can talk and say “he’s naked” isn’t in the Bible, but sometimes Episcopalians tend to twist things. So, just to be sure I consulted with one of the folks at the Baptist church.
“No,” answered First Baptist Minister Steve Davis. “You will not find it in the N.I.V., Living Bible or even the King James versions.”
But that Christmas Eve night as the congregation held candles and sang “Silent Night,” I witnessed not only the story of the shepherds, wise men and birth of a king. I witnessed the birth of a new star.
Garrett is a Carrollton resident and businessman. You can read more of his columns at joegarrett1.wordpress.com or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.