Tag Archives: Nativity Play
from “The Mirror”, 25 December 2014
A school boy thought he was all set to play Joseph Stalin in the end of term play – but it turned out he was supposed to be Joseph of Nazareth.
Russian pupil Ilya Gavrichenko told his parents he was playing the Soviet despot, and so as requested, they made his outfit, including army boots, the red stripe on his military trousers, and a marshal’s jacket.
“We even got him a perfect moustache,” said his father Fedor, from St Petersburg. “We were all ready for him to be a success.”
It was only when they arrived at the performance that the horrified parents realised this was a nativity play and their 12-year-old son was supposed to play a very different role – Joseph of Nazareth.
“He was supposed to accompany the Virgin Mary but there was no time to change the outfit,” said his father.
“Each time he went out on stage, the mothers were in hysterics, crying and yowling from somewhere under their chairs.
“My son was lost because of mixing up the part he was playing, and feeling guilty for having done so.”
Baptist Pastor Chuck Queen tells this story as part of a reflection from his book,” Shimmers of Light: Spiritual Reflections for the Christmas Season.” He states that the source for the story was a sermon he heard years ago, but can’t remember the name of the minister who preached it.
He recounts the story of a ten year old boy named Barry. Every year, Barry ruined the school Nativity Play……..”One year his angel wings caught on fire, which nearly burned down the church. The next year, as Herod the Great, he jumped from his throne and, in his usual clumsy way, jerked the carpet out from under the three wise men and dumped them on their heads.” writes Church Queen.
As a result, his classmates begged their teacher to exclude him from the latest “production”, but she didn’t have the heart to reject him, and so Barry was cast in the role of the Innkeeper.
Then, the big night arrived. He opened the door of the inn and looked straight into the face of Mary and Joseph. The latter asked if there was room in the inn.
Barry, in reply, spoke out loudly and clearly. His timing and emphasis were impeccable: “Be gone, I have no room for the likes of you!”
Then Barry watched Mary and Joseph turn sadly away into the cold night.
“Those on the front row later said that they saw tears well up in Barry’s eyes and his lips start to tremble.” writes Pastor Queen. And the author continues, ” Wait!” cried Barry. It came like a thunderclap. Every heart in the room stopped! This wasn’t in the script of the familiar Christmas story.
“Then Barry finished it: “Wait! You can have my room!” All bedlam broke loose. Barry had done it again; he had ruined another Christmas play.
“But then, maybe not.
“The director quieted the crowd and said, “Maybe, just maybe, Barry has given us the greatest message of all. He could not turn away the Christ child, even in a play.”
Pastor Queen then makes this point:
“What about us? Will we shut Jesus out? When we turn away from a world in need, from the cries of creation for mending and healing, from our brothers and sisters who are lonely, oppressed, wounded, and lost, we turn away from Christ. When we fail to offer food to the hungry, water to the thirsty, clothes to the destitute, and companionship to the lonely, we are turning Christ away (see Matt 25:34-46). ….. When any of us fail to make room for the disadvantaged in our hearts or in our country, we are failing to make room for Christ.”
The Sunday School superintendent didn’t know what to do with Keiran. He wasn’t the brightest of laddies and, although he was eager, he got most of the answers to questions about the Bible totally wrong. ( eg – “With what did Moses part the Red Sea?” Answer: “with a sea-saw!”) The Nativity Play was a matter of days away, and she couldn’t think of a part for him.
Then, fortuitously for her, one of Keiran’s Sunday School friends was stricken with ‘flu, and had to withdraw. This boy was to have been the Innkeeper – and with only one line to deliver, “No, there’s no room at the Inn”, it wouldn’t be too much of a problem for Keiran to learn. And learn it, he did – easily.
The big day arrived. The Minister, after the announcements, left the chancel area to the youngsters. Enter Mary and Joseph…….
They walked up to the Inn door, and “Joseph” knocked. Keiran stood frozen to the spot, nerves having got the better of him.
“Please, Sir, my wife is about to have a baby”, said “Joseph”, “may we have a room for the night.”
Keiran hesitated, desperately trying to recall his lines. But all that he could remember was, “No…” And then hesitated. “Nope..” he tried again, then completely dried up.
“Joseph” looked at him for a moment, then desperately tried to improvise: “have you got a stable round the back, then?”
Kern gulped nervously and again said “no…….
Exit stage left, “Mary” reduced to tears, to ask their pals what to do.
Someone suggested that they go back to Keiran, push him aside and force themselves into the inn. So they did……..three wise men joined them, one of whom hit Keiran over the head with a gold bar, turning to the aghast audience, saying “It’s not real gold – it’s just a lump of metal wrapped in gold foil!”
At that stage, amongst the mayhem, shouting, and collapsing scenery, the organist started to play the tune, “Silent Night” , and the mums and dads and grandparents and brothers and sisters, muttered the words…”all is calm, all is bright…”
Peace, goodwill to all men
I understand that next year, Keiran will be one of the Angels (!), but without a speaking part.
By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor8:00AM GMT 02 Dec 2014
Christianity is being banished from school nativity plays as the annual performance of the Christmas story is replaced with bland “winter celebrations”, research among parents suggests.
Even in schools which retain religious themes, most now opt for a modernised version of the nativity story, often featuring elaborate twists and children dressed as unlikely additions such as punk fairies, aliens, Elvis, lobsters, spacemen and even recycling bins.
Examples cited in the survey conducted by Netmums, the parenting website, even included a retelling of the story modelled on The Apprentice. Others told of children dressed as ingredients in a Christmas lunch including carrots, sprouts and – confusingly – pumpkins.
Only a third of schools now stage a full traditional nativity complete with Mary and Joseph, inn-keepers, shepherds and magi, according to the survey.
Meanwhile one in eight had said their children’s school had dropped the Christmas story altogether for a modern alternative without religious references.
One in 14 said the school now opts for a fully secular event with neutral titles such as “Winter Celebration” or “Seasonal Play”.
A handful of those polled also said they had seen pan-religious school Christmas plays incorporating references to the Muslim festival Eid, the Jewish Hanukkah or Hindu Diwali.
The survey of more than 2,000 parents also showed that a significant minority now openly admit feeling aggrieved that their child had not been cast as a major character such as Mary or Joseph and many spoke of other parents attempting to pressurise teachers to give their child a bigger part.
It also showed that the image of children wrapped in household sheets and towels in a loose approximation of dress in 1st Century AD Judea as becoming a thing of the past thanks to supermarkets and online retailers offering cheap, mass-produced nativity costumes.
Overall just over nine out of 10 respondents said their children’s school stage some form of Christmas performance with contemporary versions of the nativity, mixing modern and Biblical characters, the most common Christmas celebration, performed at almost half of cases.
Only just over a third said their children still sing traditional carols and hymns as part of the performance while a quarter said they are feature festive pop hits.
Siobhan Freegard co-founder of Netmums, said: “Do they know it’s Christmas? At some schools, it seems not.
“While the UK is a diverse and multicultural society and it’s right children learn about all religions and cultures, many parents feel the traditional nativity is being pushed aside.
“It seems wrong to bombard kids with commercial messages about presents and Santa without them realising the true meaning of the celebration.
“This study shows many parents who aren’t religious look to the nativity as a comforting part of the Christmas celebrations and want their school to embrace and celebrate it, rather than make up a
version with perhaps less resonance for kids.
“Christmas is about peace, acceptance and tolerance, so let’s see more schools accept back this tradition.”
The study also highlights fresh concern that fears about safety and privacy are invading Christmas celebrations.
Only a minority (38 per cent) said the school allows parents to take pictures of the play freely, with one in six banning cameras altogether and one in seven restricting images to an official video which they have to pay for.
Significantly, one in three said the schools now ask parents to sign forms stating they will not share the pictures on social media.
Half of parents said they had provide a costume but most now buy with supermarkets the most popular option, while sites such as eBay and Amazon were also common sources.
Meanwhile almost one in 10 parents said their child’s schools now also stage a celebration for Diwali, while one in 20 cited Eid and Thanksgiving and three per cent of had Hanukkah performances.
Just one per cent said those celebrations were actively combined with Christmas nativity plays.