Children playing the roles of Mary, Joseph, Gabriel the archangel, the Magi and the shepherds brought the nativity to life Thursday night at the Rotterdam United Methodist Church. A Cabbage Patch doll stood in for Baby Jesus.
Pastor Judith Johnson-Siebold said the Christmas Eve pageant teaches children what God is about.
“We emphasize that it is not just a cute story. It shows that anyone can be a Christ bearer, or an angel, or play a supporting role. It shows that anyone can be a home to God and that even if you are an outsider, God comes to you,” Johnson-Siebold said.
The pageant featured a mix of music, Bible readings and a touch of drama. It concluded with a candle-lighting ceremony and the singing of “Silent Night.”
Ashley Perretta, 7, portrayed Mary, the mother of Jesus. It was her first starring role in this church’s pageant. Last year she played an angel at another church’s pageant.
Perretta looked forward to her new role, for which she volunteered. “Angels are hard work. They have to tell people what to do,” she said.
As Mary, she gave a dignified performance as she listened to the Angel Gabriel, played by her sister, Jennifer, 10, and later cradled Baby Jesus before more than 50 people.
Mary wore blue from head to toe. The only contrasting colors came from a tiny Christmas ribbon in her hair and her sparkling slippers. “Mary likes blue,” Ashley said.
Gabriel was dressed in a white gown, accented by fuzzy wings and a gold halo. Jennifer, who also volunteered for that role, improvised during her appearances by waving her arms up and down.
David Anderson, 9, played a confident Joseph. “I wanted to be Joseph,” he said. This was his second pageant of the year and his third in two years. “I like dressing up for church.”
The Magi were resplendent in blue, red and black velvet robes, silver and gold crowns and gold capes. They carried incense and treasure.
The shepherds, portrayed by three young girls, wore simple robes, as befitting their humble status. One shepherd kept tripping over her too-long robes as she headed to the altar to see Mary.
Monica Campbell of Guilderland had three children in the pageant. “My kids love it,” she said.
The children practiced for it and talked about it all week, Campbell said. Her middle child, Krissy, played a cow in last year’s pageant. “She mooed for days getting ready for it.”
This year, Krissy played a Magi.
The Campbells have attended the Rotterdam church for four years. “It is a very welcoming church. It is kid friendly,” Campbell said. The children get the pageant’s message. “They know it is Jesus’ birthday and they know about the story of Bethlehem and the story of being born in a stable.”
Johnson-Siebold introduced her version of the pageant last year, shortly after taking over as pastor of the church. She previously served in Waterford.
Johnson-Siebold said she got the idea from when she attended a church in New Braintree, Mass., with her family as a youth. When she entered the church for the first time, she was asked to participate in the pageant. She found the gesture comforting and carried it with her.
“This is an appeal to the sense of holiness. We are trying to keep it calm and not go over the top, like out there,” Johnson-Siebold said, referring to the commercial frenzy of the holidays.
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Categories: Schenectady County