Two very different productions in three days, with two very different grands who expressed their talent in two vastly different roles.
I couldn’t have been more proud of them both.
Nine-year-old Isley had her first taste of true theater as she played a newsie, kids who sold newspapers on the streets, in the musical “The Christmas Post” at her school. As a fourth-grader, she was part of an ensemble that sang and danced throughout the production.
She did it with style, grins, and more energy than I could have ever maintained.
Taking place in New York in the late 1940s, it’s about a war widow trying to make money for a Christmas gift for her daughter, and the daughter becoming a newsie to gain funds to buy her mom a gift. A tender story of love, sacrifice, and giving, the songs were creative, the dialogue was witty, and the actors were polished.
For a school production, I was pleasantly surprised.
Fast forward two days, and we’re sitting in church where four-year-old Brooklyn is in a Christmas pageant. She sings all the time at home, in the car, with friends and family. She’s not been quite so expressive in public arenas. Her recent pre-school Christmas performance had her observing more than singing. But this was the telling of the Christmas story.
She was serious.
She was a sheep, and her little flock performed “Away In A Manger” and “I’d Rather Be A Sheep”. She sang with gusto, grinning and engaged. The whole production was thoroughly enjoyable. The littlest wise man’s crown was too big–it fell over his head and hung around his neck. Three shepherds read the narrative, one of whom sat cross-legged on a chair and played with his feet. Some kids sang loudly, several of whom were off-key. The director gave instructions that had the whole congregation in stitches as she moved the play along.
The performance was fun. With occasional distractions, the cast was wonderfully enthusiastic.
Both performances told stories of redemption and love. The one from the school was practiced constantly, and there was casting for the parts. There was an expectation of excellence and commitment from the players involved, and the kids worked to that end. The one in the church was performed with young kids who played their parts with encouragement to tell the story; professionalism wasn’t the goal.
Most people fall into those two categories. Those who work hard at doing their best and those who haven’t set as high a standard.
That’s how many approach faith. Some work really hard to do everything right, not wanting to make mistakes, and faith becomes duty. Others believe in Jesus, but He pretty much stays the Baby in the manger, and they engage Him when life is out of control and they need help.
Christmas is all about Jesus embracing all who come. Performance has nothing to do with acceptance. That Baby grew to Manhood and chose to sacrifice Himself for us. Not because we could do anything perfectly.
Because we couldn’t.
This Christmas, give yourself permission to embrace your imperfection and allow this Gift from God to be your Enough.
He’s all that. And more.