Breaking NewsWritten by Wes Magruder on December 21, 2012 | Found in: New Day
At our New Day gathering last Sunday, it was my turn to lead the Bible study, which is always a potluck. New Day Upendo and New Day Amani are meeting together now while one of the lead pastors recovers from the birth of our newest community member, baby Theo. Our congregants change from week to week, but include newly-arrived refugees from Africa, small children, seminary students, and even Muslims sometimes.
Usually, we break into smaller groups and have discussion on a particular passage. This week, I decided to do a little something different. We read the story of the angel’s surprise visit to Joseph before Jesus' birth. Then I identified five different characters in the story: the angel, Joseph, Mary, Joseph’s family members, and Joseph’s neighbors. We broke into five small groups, and each group was assigned one of the five characters. I asked them to discuss what the news of Mary’s pregnancy would have meant to each character. After the groups talked for about ten minutes, I brought everyone back into the large group.
I pulled out a fake microphone, and said, “Reporting live from Bethlehem, this is your roving reporter, Wes Magruder. There’s breaking news that one of the village girls is pregnant!” One by one, I pulled participants onto their feet and grilled them in character. The funniest moments came as I interviewed Justin Hancock as Mary. I kept asking him, “And how, exactly, did you come to be pregnant?”
The two Africans who played neighbors of Joseph took a more somber tone. They soberly reported that if the rumors were true, Mary would need to be put to death for breaking religious law.
But the most touching interview came when I spoke with the angel Gabriel, in the person of a little boy, Jalen. I asked him what he told Joseph, and how Joseph answered. I asked him what it was like to live in heaven. He answered every question with wide-eyed innocence, as if trying to comprehend the significance of his own announcement to Joseph.
Sometimes I wonder if any of us truly comprehend what Christmas is all about. We try hard to understand it, to make sense of it. We pass around cards which remind us of the holiday’s importance; we say things like, “Keep Christ in Christmas,” and “It’s not your birthday.”
Still the concept is slippery, difficult to grasp. We know that Jesus is born into the world, in humble circumstances, and that he grows up to be Messiah, Savior, Prince of Peace. But we haven’t actually fully grasped the meaning of it all. We don’t actually live like it’s true yet.
And so we stand like little Jalen and say, “Yes, it’s true ... I think ... A child will be born .... and he’s important.”