Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Searching for (Baby) Jesus

Every year in June, I start looking for pregnant women. I am most comfortable approaching women who I am 100% certain ARE with child, but when I get desperate I’ll talk to anyone who looks like a maybe, just in case. This has led to some embarrassment from time to time, but I am never deterred from my goal: I need Baby Jesus.

Our church has a pageant every Christmas Eve, with a winsome cast of Sunday Schoolers, and a real live baby in the starring role. I have directed this extravaganza for the past 15 years, and, always, the hardest part is finding a baby the right age (between 6 weeks and 4 months) who can lay in the rocking cradle without rolling over and possibly rolling out of it onto the floor. You would be surprised how many people pay no attention to my one simple rule when deciding to expand their families! Babies in July indeed! And then they are all disappointed when I have to turn their precious infants down. Not my fault that they didn’t plan ahead!

My Jesuses over the years have included: boys, girls, a set of twins (Jesus and a spare), and several tiny Catholics (we are Lutheran, but at a time like this who cares?) They are usually pretty well behaved (Mary is handed a pacifier along with her costume). It is a great part for young aspiring actors: in the spotlight through the whole show, with no lines to learn and no rehearsals to attend. I only ask that they be suitably dressed: solid color onesies, with no pictures of zoo animals or “clever” sayings on them.

In our version of the Christmas story, B.J. is carried from the back of the church, down the center aisle, up two stone steps, to the cradle. The carrier is the “Head Angel,” who is usually a middle schooler. It’s a long, perilous journey for the pair, and my heart is always in my throat (especially on those stone steps). We’ve always been very lucky, and the Holy Infant has made it safely to the manger. When the occasional Head Angel has appeared in church wearing heels, I make her walk barefoot, which when you think of it is more authentic anyway, right?

Well this year MY son and daughter-in-law DID plan ahead. Peter was born September 23rd, perfect timing. No more stalking Motherhood Maternity, or sending out flyers through the nursery school. I have my own home-grown Son of Man! I find myself being even more protective than usual because he is mine. I briefly thought of running background checks and getting fingerprints for this year’s Head Angel, but decided that might be a tad excessive. I do plan to put extra padding in the cradle to make it more comfy, and if he fusses I personally will pick him up, even if I have to leave the pulpit in mid-sermon to do so. Nothing but the best for this little Messiah!

Baby Jesus AKA Peter Seyfried

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