By Edgar Mayer
Interaction between live person and puppet, on the theme, how can we see God at Christmas?
Pa: Good morning, children. It seems we must wait a little. Mr Rocky should come soon. (Pastor takes a set of binoculars and begins looking through them. He searches for something.)
Ro: (Mr Rocky appears.) Good morning, children. How are you? Good morning, Pastor. (No reaction from Pastor.) Good morning, Pastor. Hallo.
Pa: (Pastor does not take his eyes from the binoculars.) Oh yes. Hallo, Mr Rocky.
Ro: What are you up to today, Pastor? You almost look silly with your set of binoculars.
Pa: I'm not silly at all. I've had a good idea. I finally want to see God. (Pastor eyes a certain member through his binoculars and then says: No, that's not him.)
Ro: You won't see God with a set of binoculars.
Pa: But these are very good.
(Pastor walks over to the children.) Children, Mr Rocky must be wrong. Do you know what binoculars are and what they can do? (Children answer.) Who has never looked through a set of binoculars? (Pastor lets children have a look through the binoculars. He suggests that they may look at the organist.) Do you agree that you can see really well with them? (Children agree.) Then I can see also God with them, don't you think? No? Maybe you are right. God may be so big that I do need to make him smaller to see him. Maybe I need to look through the binoculars from the other end. What happens when I do that? (Let the children look through the binoculars from the other end. Children confirm that everything looks further away and seems to become smaller.) God may be so big that I need to make him smaller to see him.
Ro: Pastor, you are in la la land. I give you a hint. It's Christmas soon. Where do you see God at Christmas?
Pa: I don't know, but we are in luck. I see Santa sitting in one of our pews. Santa, please come forward. You're a specialist in all things Christmasy.
Pa: (Santa comes forward. He rubs his hands to get warm.) You come straight from heaven on your sleigh. You should know where I can see God at Christmas.
Sa: Children, you need to tell your Pastor where I live. Do I live in heaven?
Ch: No. You live on the north pole.
Sa: There you have it, Pastor. I'm sorry that I cannot help you out.
Pa: That's all right. It's not your fault. But do you ever see anything unusual on your journey? Do you ever see anything that might be God?
Sa: Pastor, you don't know much about Santa at all. Children, help us out again. On my journey do I see much? Do I come by day or by night?
Ch: You come by night.
Sa: Yes. That's why I don't see much. Also, do you know the name of my reindeer that is at the front of the sleigh?
Ch: His name is Rudolph.
Sa: What's special about him.
Ch: His nose shines in the dark and guides your way.
Sa: Yes, when I ride my sleigh, I see so little that I depend on the tiny light of Rudolph's nose. I'm sorry I can't help you, Pastor. I don't know where you can see God at Christmas.
Pa: I always suspected that you were not much help. The day I discovered that you organized my mum to deliver my presents, I stopped having faith in you. What am I going to do? Maybe you better return to your pew.
Ro: Pastor, I give you another hint. What is Christmas about? What do you like about Christmas?
Pa: That's a question I can handle. Christmas is about decorated Christmas trees, candles that burn in a soft light, Christmas bikkies, presents, family time, BBQ, and lots more. I always get this special feeling when we get to Christmas. ... Wait a minute. Yes, that's it. If I can't see God, I can at least feel when he's present. I can 'see' him with my feelings. Thank you, Mr Rocky.
Ro: Careful, Pastor.
Pa: I'm always careful, Mr Rocky. Let's see. When do I feel really close to God? Maybe the congregation can offer any suggestions. When do we feel really close to God?
U: Maybe when we sing a hymn and raise the roof with our praise of God.
V: Maybe when everything goes well with our congregation and everyone is happy.
Pa: Yes, I would agree. Any other suggestions? When do we feel really close to God?
W: Maybe, when we've had a good harvest and don't have to worry about money.
X: Maybe when our health does not trouble us and we can enjoy what we do.
Y: Maybe at the end of the day when we've had success in our work.
Pa: I agree with all of the answers. There are enough moments of happiness and achievement that make us aware of the divine. Thank you Mr Rocky, when we feel our best, then we can actually feel that God is present.
Ro: Oh Pastor! Whenever I come to visit you, it is hard work. Give an old man a break.
Pa: What is it now?
Ro: You are on the wrong track. And, I'm sorry congregation, some of you are also on the wrong track. Where do you see God at Christmas?
Z: You see him when you look at the baby in the manger.
Ro: Thank you. Did you listen Pastor? You see God when you look at the baby Jesus in the manger. 2000 years ago God became a human person in Jesus. Look at him and you see God.
Pa: That can't be.
Ro: Why not?
Pa: How can the almighty God become a weak baby?
Ro: It's strange but true.
Pa: How can our eternal God become an aging human?
Ro: Nothing is impossible with God.
Pa: How can the size of God be reduced to the frame of a toddler?
Ro: Love can do anything.
Pa: But, Mr Rocky. No! Just imagine how humiliating and degrading it would have been for God. Children, I think you know about babies. What do babies do that we wouldn't expect God to do? What do babies do that shows how small and babyish they are? (Wait for answers. If no answers are coming, prompt the children.) Can babies go to the toilet? Can babies drink from a cup? Can babies walk? Can babies speak? Can babies eat properly?
Ch: Babies poo into their nappies. Babies are breast-fed. Babies cannot even sit. Babies scream a lot. Babies dribble.
Pa: You are so right. And I cannot imagine that God almighty would ever reduce himself to that kind of state. Can you imagine God with a nappy-rash?
Ro: Pastor, you do get right into it. But finally you are on the right track. You wanted to see God. You can only see him in a strange way. You see him in the baby Jesus.
Would one of the children please read the Bible passage, Matthew 1:20-23:
Ch1: An angel from the Lord came to Joseph in a dream. The angel said: "Joseph, the baby that Mary will have is from the Holy Spirit. Go ahead and marry her. Then after her baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." So the Lord's promise came true, just as the prophet had said, "A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel," which means "God is with us."
Ro: Well done. Thank you very much. See, Pastor? Baby Jesus is from God and is God. I quote the one verse to you again: "A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel," which means "God is with us."
Pa: I don't want to argue with the Scriptures, but why did God do such a thing? I would have rather looked at him with my binoculars.
Ro: A good question, Pastor. But I don't know whether you are ready for the answer.
Pa: I'm not even ready for the question yet. Why did God come as a weak baby and while we are at it: why did he later on, as a young man, die in weakness on a cross?
Ro: God is challenging you.
Pa: Lots of things challenge me. God as a baby ... That's more than challenging. That's incomprehensible.
Ro: You have the wrong idea about God and what God wants from you. You want to see a fantastic God that suits your idea of life.
Pa: So? Heaven is supposed to be a wonderful place.
Ro: Yes, but what do you know about the glory of heaven? Here on earth you look for glory in the wrong place. You want to see God with your binoculars and you think you are close to him when grand feelings grip your heart.
Pa: What's wrong about that?
Ro: You want a God that blesses your notions of success. When a great hymn raises the roof, when everything goes well, when you've had a good harvest and enough money, when your health is fine, when you've accomplished something, then you think, God must surely be present.
Pa: Yes, isn't that the case?
Ro: No, you see. God became a human baby, lived in primitive circumstances and died on a cross ... he did all that to contradict your notions of greatness. God is very different from the god we imagine him to be.
Pa: When do you get to some good news?
Ro: In a minute ... No human work, no human feeling, no human accomplishment, no human feat can point to God. The baby in the manger proves that. God needed to come and show us what a holy life looks like. God needed to become a weak human and die like one to deal with our misconceptions of glory.
Pa: Hmm, that's an interesting interpretation of Jesus' life.
Ro: There is more. Give up your notions of glory and embrace the good news of Christmas.
Pa: I would, if you finally spelled out the good news.
Ro: You heard the good news before in our Bible reading. Do you remember the words?
Pa: Yes. "A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel," which means "God is with us."
Ro: Precisely. God is with us. And once you let God be God and don't look for him to sanctify your petty achievements, then you begin to see him everywhere.
Ro: Everywhere! Think about it. God became a human and suffered like a human: from nappy-rash to the cross. He is with us even in our less than glorious human moments.
Pa: Does that mean God is with us even when our hymn singing is muted, when we fail, when we suffer a drought and are short of money, when we become sick, when nothing seems to work?
Ro: Yes. That's the good news. God became a human to share whatever we have to go through. You remember that Jesus conquered death at his resurrection? Jesus has the power to help us through any problems and lead us to eternal life.
Pa: You were challenging today, Mr Rocky, but that calls for celebration. Santa that seems to be your job. Please come forward and help us celebrate the Christmas news.
Santa: Ho ho ho. (While handing out sweets, Santa says:) Children, God the Son became the baby Jesus. He will never leave you alone. He will share your life and give you eternal life.
Pa: Well spoken Santa. God the Son became the baby Jesus. He will never leave you alone. He will share your life and give you eternal life. I'm afraid that's all we have time for today. Thank you, Santa and Mr Rocky. Good-bye.
Santa: Good-bye, Pastor and Mr Rocky. Good-bye, children.
Ro: Good-bye everyone.
© Edgar Mayer
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