Kingsfold Methodist Church
Musings From The Manse
All are Welcome.
Across the land in schools and churches Nativity plays have to include more actors & actresses than there are parts in the Christmas narratives (in line with the number of children in a class, for example). So, alongside Marys and Josephs, shepherds and kings, angels and baby Jesus, sheep and donkeys and camels, innkeepers and innkeeper’s wives, there will be additional characters to fill tableau scenes and make sure everyone has a part to play (so that every parent and grandparent can feel that proud warmth of seeing their loved one perform). In such Nativity plays I’ve seen stable cats and mice, snowmen, Christmas trees, modern-day children, and even aliens written into the story. Simply to enable everyone to be involved, all to play their part, each to have their place round the crib.
We could question and criticise these extra-characters. At one level they are invalid as they do not appear in any of the original Gospel accounts. Or, we might see that there could be a gospel-truth in such an inclusive approach.
If we put together a list of the people caught up in the Christmas arrival it makes interesting reading: angels, a young carpenter, a young unmarried woman (expecting a baby), a mute temple priest, an older cousin, two miracle babies (Jesus and John who will become the Baptist), working shepherds, Wise Men from the East (foreigners of different culture and religion), king Herod and his advisors, Simeon and Anna (elderly prophets). All sorts of people from all sorts of places are given a place in the Jesus story. The scope of this good news is everyone, everywhere and in every time.
Some of our Advent hymns and Christmas carols celebrate this inclusivity: ‘Joy to the world, the Lord has come … Let every heart prepare him room.’ ‘Angels from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth.’ ‘O come all ye faithful’ ‘He came down to earth from heaven who is God and Lord of all.’ Keep watch for the words ‘all, every, world’ and ‘earth’ - you’ll see and sing them many times this season.
This Christmas and New Year may you know and experience that you are welcome in worship and Church. And, may you practice a wide, inclusive welcome in the belief that the more you welcome others, the more you welcome and witness to Jesus and his ‘room for all’ story.
Rev Mark Slaney