Church member Chris Matthews posted this on Facebook today, and with his permission it is re-posted here.


Every manger scene needs two baby Jesuses, don’t they? Photo credit: Jody Wood

I had to go back and look and it has been since 2013 since I have written really anything. The heart strings have been pulled a couple of times now and I am surrendering to the call.

Each Christmas I look for God’s gift to me and others around me. This year it was the Guilford Park Presbyterian Church’s impromptu Christmas pageant.

It has been not quite a year since we decided to join the Guilford Park family and the love this congregation has is genuine and infectious. This particular evening we had our monthly dinner and then the pageant. The pageant is not planned. The children don the various costumes and then come down the aisle as another member reads the Christmas story.

The room was full of joy and laughter, as children will be children, and that in itself is a wonderful thing. Children just know they are having fun and they live in the moment. At one point the camel, which consisted of three children in various costume parts, fell apart while an older youth tried to keep them together. Instead of being upset or shocked the pageant wasn’t executing perfectly, we all laughed and enjoyed the moment. The icing on the cake was what the reader said next. He said, “And it was quite some time before the wise men got to the manager,” no one could have scripted this better. We all burst into laughter and enjoyed God’s sense of humor. Yes, I do believe God has a sense of humor and I enjoy seeing it around me at times I need it the most.

Our minister was sitting directly in front of us with his wife and our associate pastor was in the front. It was easy to see they were enjoying themselves and not the least bit worried about the Christmas story being lost in the chaos. Instead, we all enjoyed the true meaning of Christmas. Folks were laughing, video-taping the pageant and Jeff was secretly taking photos pretending to do selfies.

It was at the end of the pageant as we were all leaving when I felt the warm feeling I look for at Christmas—God’s way of saying, relax and enjoy. That feeling is like a warm blanket on a cold night. It puts a smile on your face and lets you know everything is going to be alright.

While this is not an advertisement for Guilford Park, I wanted to share the genuine love and joy this church shows. So, if you are in need of some Christmas cheer, come and join us and experience a smile, a handshake, a hug and the laughter we have found. God’s Christmas gift to all of us.

Chris Matthews


3 thoughts on “

  1. As the mother of one of the pieces of the camel, thank you, Chris! I love the joy and the laughter of this service as well! I am blessed to be the mom of one child who was Jesus, one former Mary and one former Joseph…and a camel. I love that our children grow up in a faith that is accessible and in a church that has so many who come together to love, worship, and find God in all the every day blessings out there. Thank you for sharing this beautiful, heartfelt writing and so glad you are a part of our church!

  2. Nice post, Chris. We used to have rehearsed Christmas pageants, and they were wonderful, with lots of great folks both staff and volunteers who helped. But they were stressful at a time of year when most of us don’t need extra stress! I think the informal telling of the story is a great innovation, and I believe Kim Row had a lot to do with making that change.

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