The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

by Sally Matheny

It was the best Christmas pageant ever. Not because of the angels in their white poster-board wings and crooked tinsel halos. 

Nor was it the tiny, shepherds carrying ninja sticks. Or the wise men wearing refurbished Burger King crowns. 

Even though Mary held the baby doll as if it was Jesus himself; that year, it was all about Joseph.

Three siblings began attending our church. They came to VBS in the summer and continued to come almost every Sunday, as long as they had a ride.

They didn’t maintain a rowdiness like the Herdman family in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. However, like the Herdmans, they did come from a less fortunate home.
Cigarette and kerosene fumes infused their faded clothes. Caring Sunday school teachers often washed dirt from their little hands and faces. Others brought the children coats for the winter.
The three-year-old boy was, of course, the most energetic. The raspy-speaking four-year-old girl always wore a sheepish grin . Nick, the oldest, seemed quiet and reflective for a six-year-old boy. All three appeared to enjoy coming to church.
Since a parishioner usually brought them, we never met the children’s parents. That is, until the night of the Christmas pageant.
Someone offered to pick up the children but Nick declined stating his parents would be coming to watch them in the program. We were excited about finally meeting the parents of these precious children.
A sea of red and green Christmas-attire in the congregation made the children’s parents obvious. Their pierced, tattooed body parts donned black leather for the occasion. Welcomed warmly—by most—they settled in to watch their children transform into an angel, a shepherd, and Joseph.
The play went well. The children were adorable; the story and songs were sweet.
Actual photo of one of the best Christmas pageants ever.
("Joseph" is in the brown robe)
The pastor planned to share a few words at the end. Most of the kids went to sit with their parents. Perhaps there was not enough room on his parents’ pew, but for some reason, six-year-old Nick came and sat beside me.
The pastor spoke a few minutes about Jesus Christ’s purpose in coming to earth. He invited people to come pray if they wished. He told them to consider accepting Christ as their Lord and Savior.
“Silent Night" softly filled the room. A few people came to pray silently and then returned to their seats. During the last verse, Nick tugged at my sleeve. I leaned down to hear his soft voice.
“I want to go,” he said.
It had been a long day for the children. I thought Nick must be tired and ready to go home.
“It’s almost over,” I whispered, patting him on the shoulder. “We’ll be done in a minute.”
Another tug at my sleeve.
“No,” he said. His brow furrowed with serious intention. “Can I ask Jesus into my heart? Can I do that?”
Tears welled up in my eyes as I sat down beside Nick. “Do you want to ask Jesus in your heart, Nick?”
He nodded yes.
“Then, yes, you can do that. Go ahead,” I said and motioned for him to go talk to the pastor.
Tilting his head up at me once again, his eyes widened. “But, I don’t know how.”
“Do you want me to go with you?”
He nodded yes. But the music had stopped. The song was over. The pastor was already making parting announcements. Fidgety children were anxious to find their way to the refreshments in the fellowship building.
My hand shot in the air. “Wait! Pastor, could we sing just one more verse? There’s someone who wants to come.”
“Of course, come on young man,” he motioned for us to come forward. The pianist gladly belted out another verse while we talked with the pastor.
Swallowing the lump in my throat was difficult. Controlling my tears of joy—impossible. I wasn’t alone. Sniffles rippled through the room.
God used many people to influence little Nick. Church members, Sunday School teachers, the choir director and the pastor. Just as the star had led the wise men, each person had tenderly pointed Nick to Christ.
For me, one of the best Christmas pageants ever was the night “Joseph” found Jesus. It wasn’t really about "Joseph."
It was totally about Jesus.

What about you?

Are you an acting member of a cast—just playing the part of a church member?
Or, are you a genuine star, shining in this dark world, leading others to Christ?
Let’s remember to keep Jesus Christ starring front and center during the Christmas season, and for the rest of our lives.

Other Posts You May Enjoy:

"The Year I Learned the Truth About Santa"

"Besides Love, the Best Gift for Baby's First Christmas"


  1. Great Story Sally! Hope you are having a great Christmas Season. May the Child Be born anew in all of us.

    1. Thanks Mary Jane. Our Christmas season has been wonderfully simple and sweet thus far. Praying you have a blessed Christmas as well.

  2. My daughter and I are reading THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT right now - we're on the very last chapter and have been saving it for special bedtime reading tonight - so this post comes at a perfect time. Like the book, it is a WONDERFUL reminder of the real meaning and joy of Christmas. Thank you for posting!

    1. I just finished reading it with my son as well. I love the book! The only part I edit when reading aloud is when Imogene takes the Lord's name in vain. :) Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing, Laura. Your daughter will always remember those special moments of you two reading together. May you have a blessed and merry Christmas.

  3. Years ago I directed a children's choir that included bus kids. I have so many wonderful memories of those precious children. Thanks for sharing a sweet story.

    1. Ah, Sharon. I'd love to hear your story! Can you imagine "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" made into one of your silent films? Imogene Herdman in her flashy, gold earrings and the rest of the Herdmans dragging a ham down the center aisle to give to baby Jesus?
      I hope you have a joyful Christmas.

  4. Oh, Sally! Thank you for sharing such a precious story! I have read "The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever" every year since I was in the 10th grade. I've read it to my children every year since their birth! To experience the Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever by witnessing a child giving his heart, soul, and life to JESUS CHRIST must fill you with such overwhelming joy. What a wonderful gift! Merry Christmas, Saundra Clay

    1. Saundra, that's a precious family Christmas tradition. The book continues to remind me that not everyone has had the opportunity to hear about Jesus' birth. And it gives those of us who have heard it often a fresh perspective of God's miraculous love. Thanks for sharing, Saundra. Have a blessed Christmas.


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