First Things First

This weekend, I directed my fourth children's ministry Christmas performance.

Last year was the only time in five years at this church that I didn't direct the program. I had a January 1st deadline for my second novel last year, and as a result I was too scared to commit to anything in the holiday season. But I felt the absence of that program. It was a real sacrifice, and a reluctant one. I knew that no one else would have my peculiar passion for this type of Christmas pageant, and therefore, the kids wouldn't get the opportunity to do it.

This year, I faced another January 1st novel deadline. But this time, I was determined not to sacrifice that Christmas program again out of fear of my deadline.

I had to place first things first. Though writing means a lot to me, children mean more.

Why did it matter? What's the big deal about a bunch of kids in costumes dug up from the church basement?

When you're eight, a white robe and tinsel halo are beautiful, extraordinary. They make you part of the miracle at Bethlehem. And all your friends are equally transformed into part of the great story, as if heaven just came down to earth. And it did.

I spent ten years of my life without faith, in my teens and early twenties. One of my strongest connections to my childhood faith was the joy of Christmas pageants. It's possible that those early memories helped me to return to faith as an adult. Now, I hope I'm building those same memories for the children I know.

Tinsel haloes matter.