Have you been to ComicCon? How about GenCon, DragonCon, or Pax East? I experienced a Christmas event that reminded me of such experiences, but it wasn’t the Christmas Comic Con held in Windsor, Ontario. With all the running and craziness going on around Christmas, I hope you find time to consider the Christ.
This past weekend I joined hundreds of believers from dozens of churches in presenting the “Journey to Bethlehem”. You could call this a play, but you would be wrong. You could call this an interactive experience, and you would be partly correct, but you still would be wrong. This was 3 nights of worshipful declaration through interactive theater. Guests met at a church where they were put into “family groups” to journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, meeting many characters along the way such as a scribe who spoke of prophecies of the Messiah, shepherds and angels, and even Roman Dogs, I mean, umm…Soldiers. We were declaring the real reason for Christmas as Christ’s birth.
Churches involved came from a huge variety of backgrounds: Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Wesleyan, non-denominational, Lutheran, and so on. We had guides, trail cast (Roman soldiers, wise men, etc.), the Bethlehem cast (shopkeepers, women at the well, and such), set builders, parking attendants, greeters, cookie ladies, cookie bakers (yes we had hundreds of dozens of homemade cookies donated as well as some store made stuff). Our goal was to present an authentic view of the first Christmas. I was a back guide. This means I was cooperating with a lead guide. His job was the lines and discussions, my job was the timing and keeping everyone together. The tickets for this event had been available in advance, only face to face, not online. They sold out in under two hours (and I am talking about 3,700 tickets).
You know what this reminded me of? A Con. This is, of course, short for convention. At many conventions of the nerd/geek culture you have people coming together from all different walks: tabletop gaming, RPGs, anime, writing, science fiction, video gaming, cosplay, and the like. We all take different roles when we come together, many of us taking multiple roles. We come together to shout “Nerdiness matters!”
When we go to a con, we are reminded that we are part of something much larger. A whole culture that has many nooks and crannies, a particular vocabulary, hobbies, etc. As you think about Christmas, consider what a large story this is! The cast of characters includes shepherds, wise men (although they likely came along later than the other cast members), Mary and Joseph, angels, the priest and the prophetess at the temple, and others we may not have heard about.
But keep one thing in mind: this cast is not here merely to enjoy a hobby, but to come to worship. This is a celebration, but it is also a declaration. Christ the King is born! The Messiah, Emmanuel who is God with Us. He no longer looks down from a throne room, but sitting with us. Remember that He is burping with us, eating with us, teaching us. God came and experienced the mundane and the sacred with us. Luke tells us that as everyone got excited about all that was happening around the birth of Jesus, Mary pondered all these things in her heart. Would you do that? Would you ponder what Jesus coming means and the large story it is? Christ the King is born!!!!