When I was in 2nd grade, I was chosen to play the part of Mary in the Nativity. It was not because I was a budding actress, but simply because I was very tall like David Herrington who played the part of Joseph and the audience could see us better from a distance. I remember being excited that I got to bring my favorite doll to wrap and hold while the story unfolded on stage. I also liked the pale blue gown and the way it draped over my head and fell in folds to the floor. I had to hold my head very still though for fear of it falling off. Most of us have acted out the scene at some point in our lives. My youngest daughter was a sheep one year and the way her ears flopped when she baa-ed made my sides burst when I REALLY wasn’t supposed to be laughing. Oh, and one year six children in our home donned bathrobes and acted out the scene to four proud parents. That one got a little out of hand when the two shepherds got in a fight with their broom-staffs.
Today I am asking myself: which part will I play in the Nativity? If I am the angels, well, then, I am already in Heaven and have the privilege of telling others not to worry. I can fly around and sing joyfully. If I am Joseph, I am dazed and confused, thinking about the newly defined family I have been asked to support and must find a hotel quickly because a baby is about to be born that is not even mine. If I am Mary, I am tired and weary, bearing the weight of the world, facing an uncertain future. If I am the innkeeper, I am busy making money and knowing these people from Nazareth can’t pay, should send them on their way – or on second thought, offer them the shed. If I am the shepherds, I am looking for a little action – something in the sky is different and tending sheep can be such a drag. If I am the Wise Men, well, I will come later, but I do see something happening different in the stars and I start shopping. If I am the animals, I can sense that something is different and I simply stand very still.
All of creation plays a part in this mystery and wonder of the birth of Jesus. No one is exempt from the reality of the divine child in the stable. All Christian theology has its origin in the wonder of that night – when God became flesh. It is how we “play our part” in the story.
In the end, scripture plainly tells us that every knee shall bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. (Romans 14:11)
God who becomes flesh among us,
I want to be the angel, glorifying you or the lowly donkey, simply standing very still,
but you have made me the human with a choice for the part I will play in your story. Help me to choose you.