upper room daily devotions

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Children's Play - Sun, Moon, Star by Kurt Vonnegut

You know you pastor a cool church when the Christmas play is "Sun, Moon, Star" by Kurt Vonnegut. There are many Christmas pageants and plays for purchase. Many of them are very clever and funny. Most of them have nothing to do with Christmas. They are gimmicks contrived to "do something new with an old story." More precisely, they are gimmicks used to get churches to buy yet one more thing. Perhaps this reveals why I don't work in theater, but I think that the Christmas story is pretty interesting just as is. Angels, shepherds, birth, animals, stars, songs, love, danger, political intrigue, poverty, and riches - it seems to me that the original story has everything in it that a major blockbuster movie needs to be successful. Yet, I'm not beyond finding new ways to bring this most wonderful story to both children and adults.

Some authors who have found new and profound and even silly ways to tell Christ's birth include Madeleine l'Engle's "Sky Full of Children," which is all about creation, stars, and wonder. In it she asks, "Was there a moment, known only to God, when all the stars held their breath, when the galaxies paused in their dance for a fraction of a second, and the Word, who had called it all into being, went with all his love into the womb of a young girl, and the universe started to breathe again, and the ancient harmonies resumed their song, and the angels clapped their hands for you?" Sky Full of Children is a chapter within her book on the Incarnation called "Bright Evening Star."

Leo Tolstoy also writes about the meaning of Christmas in Papa Panov's Special Day.

Frances Tyrrell took the old Canadian/Native American Christmas song "The Huron Carol" and turned it into an illustrated children's book, which is pretty outstanding.

Author Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones and illustrator Shelly Hehenberger offer us a tale that rests on John 1 in their book "Jesus, the Word."

These are not plays, per se, but they are tales that may help people enter the Christmas story afresh. I have seen all of these turned into plays in one way or another.

Of course, I am a pastor, and I think the best Christmas story is found in the Bible. To be specific, I am most moved by Luke's story (sorry Matthew).

Here's Kurt narrating his own story.

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