I think it’s good for the soul to attend at least one Christmas program annually just because you want to and not from any sense of obligation. My first choice would be the Chamber Singers Christmas Concert in Armstrong Browning Library at Baylor University. Since I am currently an inmate at Bastrop FSC and my travel options are, shall we say, somewhat limited, my second choice is the Chapel Christmas Program here at the camp. So Sunday, December 20th, I was right there, second row, middle seat.
Now this year’s program, like most Christmas pageants, was not without its share of pre-opening night drama. The inmate asked to write the script abruptly quit in early December citing “creative differences” with the organizing committee. While I was not privy to the disagreement, I do have a vivid imagination about such things. I wonder if it could have been that the writer was edging in an unsuitable gender neutral direction or maybe he wanted to hold the wise men at the border for proper FBI screening. Enquiring minds like mine want to know sordid details, but they are sketchy at this time.
Nevertheless, the show must go on, and it did. Traditionalists would have appreciated the treatment, and why not go with that?–unwed teenage mom, confused but forgiving future husband who is not the baby daddy, homelessness, a barn, angels, shepherds, sheep, wise men, camels, a lobster and spider man. All of this inspirationally documented in the gospel of Luke and the movie Love Actually.
As you may guess, all the parts were played by inmates who are male, to the best of my knowledge. I have to admit that the fact that Mary, the mother of Jesus, was played by a large man with a goatee and gold front teeth was an initial stretch until I remembered that the real quantum biological leap was believing that Mary was a virgin. As I was apparently comfortable with that, her being portrayed by a man with gold front teeth and a goatee was a small step indeed. So I got over it.
The reality is that everything is a little weird here, but our Christmas pageant, as accurately as any Christmas program ever, seriously depicted the first chapter of the greatest story ever told. It’s a story that truly changed everything about everything. That part we got right.