“So, Emma, do you want to be Mary this year?”
“No, I’m going to be an angel. You know there are three?”
Nolan is not sure what he wants to be this year. Last year he was a lamb. I think he is contemplating the role of shepherd this year.”
A few years ago I wrote a play called The Empty Manger. It was about a young woman who stopped into a church to warm herself. Due to illness, the role of Mary was up for grabs. The minister talked her into sitting by the manger. It was all she had to do. Just sit there.
As she sat there, three people came by to see the babe in the empty manger. A king. A woman. A child. They saw hope, love and peace. An heir, a friend, a master. ‘Mary’ was confused because she saw nothing in the manger. “I don’t think this is the way the story goes,” she said.
A light shone upon her face, and she began to cry for she realized that the manger was full of forgiveness, possibilities, love. A Jewish baby born in a barn. The crude manger and the humbleness with which we come to it. He was a dark child unlike her with fair features and blonde hair. It was time for Mary to face her reality. Could she accept this dark child? Could she believe that He embraces her warts and all? Could she believe with all her heart?
Well, just as she had little choice in playing the part of Mary, she had little control over the depth of love she felt from this empty manger. The minister came back and told her to be ready as the congregation had settled. Confused Mary looked at the minister. What had just happened? She then understood that she had been given a blessing. A step back to a time that was foreign and strange. A step forward in peace and love.
Last year Emma held baby Jesus in the pageant. She pulled the blanket from his face and tucked it around him. She rocked him and saw nothing else but Him. For Emma, the manger was full. For all of us who watched, our hearts were overflowing.
I wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday. May you be blessed with peace, love and hope. Please, pass it on.