It was written by our own Ann Carter, who worked with the youth to develop a script that was just right for Richmond’s First Baptist Church.
The play was set in Eunice’s Piano Café, and at one point two girls showed up wearing “wise men” costumes. They explained that they were on the way to the youth pageant at their church, but all the boys wanted to be shepherds, leaving the girls to play the part of the wise men. Later one of the café patrons made a sarcastic remark about “those wise girls from the heaven on earth church.”
I laughed out loud.
But the play wasn’t only funny: it was a creative and innovative way of telling an almost too-familiar story. And when the wise men made their regal procession at the end of the pageant to bow before the baby Jesus, I probably wasn’t the only one with a lump in my throat. In my closing prayer I said, “Twenty years ago these children weren’t even born, but they’ve grown up in this church, they’ve heard this story over and over again, and now here they are, telling it to us.”
As I said, it was wonderful.
But just before the play began I heard something that may have been even more wonderful. Beth Holthaus asked me if I knew Ginny Sanders. Well, of course I do. Everybody knows Ginny. She directed the Youth Christmas Pageant for decades and earned a reputation as “the world’s oldest living teenager.” But these days Ginny is in health care at Lakewood Manor. She can’t direct the youth pageant any more. She isn’t even able to come.
And so the pageant came to her.
Yesterday, during the Sunday school hour, the senior youth put on their pageant costumes and went out to Lakewood Manor. I wish I could have been there to see Ginny’s face when they walked into her room. I understand pictures were taken, and as soon as I get one I’ll post it below. But for now it’s enough to imagine that moment, and to thank God for the youth from “that heaven on earth church,” who, on Sunday morning, in a lonely room at Lakewood Manor, did just that—
They brought heaven to earth.