When it comes to Christmas books, it doesn't get much better than The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Tonight we finished reading it...the sweet girl's first time through, and my hundred and umpteenth. (I still have my Weekly Reader copy from the 1970s...I've loved this book a long time!)
I was going to post all about why I love the book, and why I can't read the final scenes with Imogene Herdman without crying, but then I remembered that I'd written about this book here a few years ago. I went searching and found the 5+ year old post, and I thought I'd excerpt a bit of it here. Because some things never change, including the rush of wonder this book gives me every time I read it. What a delight to share it with my daughter.
Here's the old post, in part.
I think it's one of my favorite moments in any Christmas story -- and I love a lot of Christmas stories.
Imogene Herdman was crying.
In the candlelight her face was all shiny with tears and she didn't even bother to wipe them away. She just sat there -- awful old Imogene -- in her crookedy veil, crying and crying and crying.
Well. It was the best Christmas pageant we ever had.
What's so wonderful about this scene, aside from its good storytelling sense, is that I think most of us have some Imogene Herdman in us. If we're honest, some of us have Imogene Herdman moments -- or days -- or perhaps even years. We know what it's like to be clumsy and broken, to not fit in anywhere, to have to take care of other people when sometimes we'd love if it people would take care of us for a change. We hide our insecurities behind bravado, sometimes irreverence, maybe even a touch of bullying.
And then comes that moment -- sometimes in the footlights, sometimes in the covers of a story, sometimes just in the quiet of our own heart -- when the wonder of God's love for us alights on our head like a beautiful bird. It comes home to us how much God loves us, awful old us, dressed up in our crookedy costumes, pretending to be someone we know we're not. That love washes over us like a flood, and in that moment we know who we are because we finally know whose we are.
And that's grace.