Last week, Liam and I went to Clemmons Moravian Church on a Thursday afternoon to see our Annabelle in her new preschool’s annual Christmas show. When it was time for her class’s part of the show, she and 15 other of her new friends walked onto the stage, all decked out in their classic nativity finest. There were wise men in paper crowns, little angels in gold and silver tinsel, shepherds with candy cane staffs, all sorts of stable animals, and a precious Mary and Joseph standing over a baby (doll) Jesus. It was so very precious. From my back row perch, I squealed in delight to see Annabelle, demure and maternal in Mary’s baby blue. I kept my eyes on Mary throughout the whole show, my eyes blinking with tears at such a special sight. And of course, I proudly told about my girl to the parent sitting beside me who asked which was mine. “Mary!,” I shared with a grin.

The show concluded, family members put down their phones (recording the event for grandparents and spouses!) long enough to clap in appreciation, and Liam and I set off to find our girl for the after-show reception of punch and cookies. We arrived in her room, gave her big hugs, and left for the party. “Annabelle,” I said to her, “you were such a wonderful Mary! I’m so proud of you!” And with a glint in her eye and a cackle, she quickly responded, “Mommy, I wasn’t Mary! I was a sheep!”

Once I got over the embarrassment of being the mom who didn’t know which child was hers in the Christmas pageant, of course I had to laugh. (I should have known that my daughter wasn’t likely to be the demure one!) From my back row perch, little Mary looked just like Annabelle! And with my eyes focused elsewhere, I missed the joy of truly seeing the moment that unfolded just before me.

As we hurry throughout the final preparations to meet God in the manger this weekend, my prayer for you and for me is that we can stay focused — not on Mary, but the babe; not even on an adorable sheep, but the Good Shepherd. For as the Gospel of John reminds us, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

When the promise of a coming Christ is life and light, oh that we might truly see!

Together in the work of Love,
Pastor Emily

(I give thanks for Nancy Robinson, who captured this sweet front-row photo which convinced me that Annabelle really WAS a sheep!)

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