'Tis the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la. In the life of Mr Vicarage, it means the now regular jaunts around the schools to enjoy their Nativity plays. Regular readers of this blog (thank you) will know how deeply moved I am by each one of them, with offered by the youngest of our children moving most of all.
The added dimension this year is that my own children have just completed their first Nativity. One of the Twins Aculae was a Star, the other a Wise Man. It seems only weeks ago that they were Car-seat fodder, little bundles of indiscriminate squirming.
Now, they are modern day vehicles of the purest revelation - and let me tell you why.
In the weeks leading up to the Great Day, they have clearly been rehearsing the words to the songs that they are going to offer the world. The great joy of watching all this happening (professionally and personally) is seeing little ones learn, by-heart, the words to anything up to ten songs which they will and do warble out without a moment's coyness. The thing is, when they come home and tell us the songs they they have working on, or even when they offer a rendition, they are mortified when we join in and sing with them. "How do you know that song, Daddy?". There is the right answer and the honest answer: the right answer is that the teachers told us so that we can help them learn at home; the honest (but wrong) answer is that we did the same songs as kids and in every year since.
My children, at four years of age believe, with ever fibre of their being, that they are the first to tell the story of Jesus. It is their story to tell, not ours. They believe too that every song that they sing is an innovation just for them. That means, to me at least, that every Nativity play offered by Reception age children is as fresh and real as the Gospel account itself. It is in their hearts; they mean it; yes, they even believe it. They are telling it as they feel it, in all the glorious and beautiful chaos that only kids can bring to such a performance. Give me a little child over Luke the Evangelist any day of the week. One is impressive, the other is life changing, if you but let it.
I have said it before, and I will say it many times again: try being cynical about Christmas after you see a Nativity play offered by the young. They 'get' Christmas more than even I do, and they teach me more about the magic of the Incarnation that I could ever hope to teach them.