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The Christmas Pageant

Dec 27, 2010 — Categories:

My flight leaving Cape Town was cancelled due to bad weather in Europe. So I got to stay for the rehearsal of the Christmas Pageant at St. Mark’s Anglican Church.

My flight leaving Cape Town was cancelled due to bad weather in Europe. So I got to stay for the rehearsal of the Christmas Pageant at St. Mark’s Anglican Church.

The scene opens on a hotel filled with World Cup visitors. Late at night, a knock on the door brings a man and a pregnant woman, but no room. Finally the hotel manager offers a shed in the parking lot. With no medical assistance but lots of angels, the woman gives birth to a child. An angel sang:

“Mary, did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm by his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you’ve kissed your little baby, then you’ve kissed the face of God.”

An angel appears to a group of soccer players telling them to go to this hotel and find the new baby. Three wise men follow a star that brings them there and they give gifts. There is much dancing and rejoicing all around.

So there in the organized chaos of the pageant’s rehearsal, kids from ages 3-13, black, white, and every shade in between were celebrating Christmas.

CandlesI had been worried about being here during Advent. In the southern hemisphere, we are in summer with long days, warm sun, and short nights. A few of the usual Christmas trappings but the juxtaposition is all wrong. School is out and everyone is on holiday from early December to mid January and most families spend the time at the beach. But it doesn’t seem like Christmas and I didn’t get to put up the outdoor lights on our house in Seattle.

Yet what I found in spending Advent here was a deeper sense of Christmas than usual. As a Christian, I have experienced the incarnation, the coming of God among the people, on a whole new level. The people who have taken me into their homes and hearts; the acts of love and justice, large and small, that I have seen every day. SAFFI Director, Elizabeth Peterson’s 72-year-old father serves soup to his neighbors every Thursday from his home; faith leaders are working to try to prevent the demolition of small church structures in the townships before Christmas; the AIDS orphans are cared for next door to Elizabeth’s SAFFI office; faith leaders marched on December 16 to celebrate Reconciliation Day. This particular holiday formerly was a celebration of an Afrikaan’s victory in battle--But no more. It is now a national holiday to celebrate the reconciliation of all South African people.

I now know that I came here to experience Christmas and to be reminded that God is with us, Emmanuel. The beautiful beaches, 80-degree weather, and palm trees don’t distract me now. Indeed there is nothing about snow that guarantees the Christian experience of Emmanuel, God with us.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
FaithTrust Institute

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Christmas in Africa

Posted by Lynda at Dec 28, 2010 04:50 PM
What a learning experience this must have been. We give thanks for the open hearts that have greeted you and made you realize you are a part of them all.

I loved the contemporary setting of the angels and the soccer players!


Thank you

Posted by Marvin Eckfeldt at Dec 28, 2010 04:51 PM
Hello Marie:
Thank you so much for your writings about your experiences in South Africa. What a privilege to be their for the launching of SAFFI and all the attendant activities. Your account of the visit to the prison is powerful. I look forward to your further observations as you reflect on this trip. Welcome home, when you get here, but what an incarnational gift you received in this Advent-Christmas. - Marvin

Christmas in the southern hemisphere

Posted by Jerry McCloskey at Jan 04, 2011 01:30 PM
Still, a white Christmas is nice. We didn't get one this year (again), but we did have a white Thanksgiving. Not the same, though.

I've really enjoyed your dispatches from S.A. Have a good trip home.