December is a busy month for almost everyone, and especially for those in full time ministry, including Christian school teachers. Last weekend Windham Christian Academy, my workplace, had its annual live nativity. And, while there was no place in the nativity for a juggler / magician, I still got to perform as King Herod. There were several adults involved behind the scenes, including my wife, Sue, running lights, but I was the only adult actor. I'm not sure how it turned out that way, but I'm glad it did. The coworkers and the kids in the cast - ranging from 3rd through 10th grades- were so fun to work with.
The phrase live nativity might bring to mind live sheep, goats, cattle and chickens roaming though the set, but ours was not that elaborate. I did provide two doves in a couple old cages made of wood. This was actually fairly authentic, and doves of course were a common animal sacrificed in the temple by the poorer Jews. They made a nice addition to the set for Mary's home, where she was visited by the angel. The rest of the 'live' in our live nativity was the actors miming their parts while a recording of our elementary students reading the Christmas passage from Luke was playing. Periodically the narration would pause while a quartet of high school girls sang some of the traditional Christmas hymns that fit nicely with the given scene.
The 'show' ran every 15 minutes for two hours on back to back nights. Nobody thought to get a count of the total number of people to attend, but I'd estimate the average group was 15 people. With a cast of all children, there were the usual snafus: breaking character to wave to someone a child recognized in the audience, delayed starts for angels who had to use the restroom; and in one presentation the innkeeper seemed to think the Joseph and Mary weren't moving on fast enough so he swatted Mary in the butt with a broom! Hardly Broadway. But I loved playing the part of the villian Herod, and it caused me to reflect on his role in the whole passage as I tried to develop his character accurately.
I hope the people who came from the community (many not associiated with the school) were blessed by the pageant. The most important thing about it all, though, was the chance for the school: principal, music teacher, other teachers and staff, and kids of every grade level, to work together on a common mission and be creative together. For me, as a teacher, it was so sweet to spend time with students and not be concerned with grades, homework, and classroom management. We just had a lot of fun as we did this show together.