During Advent, the chapel leader at Sean’s school posited that the most overlooked people in the Christmas story are the shepherds. Sean, who has played many a shepherd over the years, strongly disagreed with that assertion. We had a number of discussions, in our family and with friends, about the question. We all agreed that the shepherds are well-known and well-loved, at least here at Westchester Lutheran. In the end, we concluded that everyone in the story is important, and there for a reason.

The discussion led me to think about the reason the various supporting players are in the story. It also led me to realize that, in addition to our school-day experiences, we will all play a part in the Christmas pageant one day.

At some point in our lives, we will all be Mary – confronted by a task that seems impossible, until we remember that God is with us in every moment. We will all be Joseph – tempted to run away, until we listen to the angels who counsel us to embrace our challenges and find God within them. We will all be the innkeeper – overwhelmed and regretful that we cannot do more, until we understand that sometimes, a simple gesture is all that’s needed. We will be the angels – delivering words of hope to those who didn’t even know they needed them. We will all be the shepherds – sharing our excitement at being saved with those who have not yet heard the Good News.

And at every moment in our lives, we should all try to be like Jesus – the unmatchable blend of meekness and strength, of power and grace, the beacon of love and forgiveness that drew everyone to the manger and still draws us all.

Whatever role you play in this year’s Christmas pageant, may you find new wonder and purpose and peace.

“How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.”
Phillips Brooks, 1865