I look forward to the annual church Christmas play.
As a child I would always play some small role, like an angel or the inn keeper's wife. I always wanted to be Mary and wear the blue cloth over my head as I held the baby Jesus out to the shepherds. But sadly, I wasn't gifted with a great singing voice and most of the time Mary was required to sing solo.
I sometimes think I missed my calling as a drama teacher, because when it comes time to put together the church Christmas program, I go all out.
I want fancy lights and fancy costumes, the perfect music and volunteers that all aspire to put on the best community church program that they can.
Being three hours away from my home church put a stretch on my participation this year. I helped another lady as she ran the majority of practices. While she made sure lines were given out and practice times were kept, I made sure the music was in place, the props were precise and small, little areas of the play were tweaked to my satisfaction.
I know I drove everyone crazy, especially the newcomers to church who had no idea who I was barking out orders to pick up costumes and remain quiet during practice. I'm sure I even drove my Mary crazy, reminding her to put emphasis into her actions as she sang "Breath of Heaven."
Yes, it's the little things that I work hardest on. Like explaining to the three Wisemen that they must bow to Herod before speaking to him, and that Mary needs to act like she's going into labor as she's singing, or that the inn keeper needs to take a few minutes to answer Joseph at the front door.
This year we were fortunate enough to have a real baby Jesus — little Jacob who is barely a week old.
At the end of the play, Jacob's mother handed him to Joseph who cradled him in his arms, before handing him to Mary.
As Joseph began calling everyone that would to come and see the precious gift from God, he began crying, later telling me that, "At that moment looking at Jacob, he wasn't Jacob. He was baby Jesus. He was the entire world. I just couldn't help myself."
The little things — that's how you can best understand the importance of Jesus' birth. The wisemen bowing to the king symbolized the control Herrod had. Joseph supporting Mary as she sang was a sign of not only affection but comfort and understanding. Everything, it seems, about the Christmas story is all about the timing, the listening, the obedience.
What if Mary didn't listen to Gabriel and accept the plans God had for her? What if Joseph didn't realize that his dream was a sign from God to take care of Mary? What if the wisemen had chosen to report to Herod their findings of Jesus?
What if we, in our own lives, choose not to pay attention to the little things God is saying — how will we end up?
It's in focusing on the small pieces of our faith that God can truly speak to us the loudest.
I may get carried away during a church production, but what dedicated worker doesn't? I just want it to look good and be filled with an anointing that can minister to others. I am, after all, a story teller at heart. And I've already started on Easter.