At the church I previously served as pastor, the kids signed up in advance for the parts they wanted to play in the annual Christmas pageant. One year, two little girls signed up to play Mary. And nobody signed up to play Joseph. Ours wasn't a Tony-winning show, so what the heck. We went sans Joe that year, and two little girls -- one about 8, one about 5 -- stood together tending baby Jesus. The double-casting was entirely innocent, but church was open and affirming to gays and lesbians, so, behind the scenes, we jokingly referred to that year's pageant as, "Jesus Had Two Mommies."
At the church I now serve, a "real" family plays the Holy Family roles, if the calendar works out. (By calendar working out, I mean, did anyone have a baby in he past few months? And will they be in town for Christmas Eve?) This year, a charming little four-week old girl will play the role of baby Jesus. And her mother and father will dress in costume as Mary and Joseph. The best part is, the dad is Muslim. He's not exactly "practicing" or especially "religious." But by birth and tradition, he is Muslim.
So, Jesus is a girl. S/he had two mommies. And his daddy (or is that step-daddy?) is Muslim.
My grandmother had a huge yard filled with flowers, fruit trees and statues. And every year in December she set her manger scene in the middle of it. It was the plastic kind where you stuck up a light bulb up their robes. But my grandmother wasn't content with that. She hauled over the rest of her statuary -- a terra cotta swan that was really a flower pot, a concrete boy with a fishing pole who normally lived at the fish pond, a ceramic frog. By Christmas Eve, a bizarre cadre of critters surrounded Jesus. None of them matched in style, size, or material.
Sweet little Jesus girl with two mommies and a Muslim daddy. An odd-sized boy with a fishing poll, swans, frogs, sweaty shepherds, befuddled scientists from the east, maybe a braying donkey, a pregnant teen-aged girl, a decree-sending emperor who had no idea he was part of the tale.
Christmas is a universal story. Fear, faith, longing, home, misfits, new life. Those are universal ideas.
"God bless us everyone," as Tiny Tim said. And, "Peace on earth, goodwill to all."
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