Today’s blog post is by Theresa Pierce. Theresa is a contributor to our book Room at the Table: Encouraging Stories from Special Needs Families, where Theresa writes about living with her brother.
My favorite Christmas memory was being part of a living nativity scene at Spilman Baptist Church in Kinston, North Carolina. The living nativity of Spilman Baptist Church was epic! Everyone in town rode slowly by and many families filled the churchyard to take a closer look. That is what they told us, but to tell you the truth, I was always in the spotlight and could not see the record crowds. Every year, for as long as I could remember, I was an angel, literally.
An Angel in the Living Nativity
I was an angel next to Mary, the mother of Jesus. One year, I remember trying not to laugh as the donkey kept trying to eat my momma’s scarf while my dad swatted his efforts. They tried not to laugh. Eventually, they promoted me to the roof, where we crawled precarious ladders to position ourselves as angels who appeared to hover over the lowly manger. When the Halleluiah melody belted out, it was our angelic responsibility to raise our arms for the entire chorus. It felt like an eternity. Our arms ached, but we did not dare to let them drop. We took our duty seriously. Even our Sunday School teachers reminded us that our ministry mattered. And it did!
I was fortunate to grow up across the street from the church, what I believe to be divine intervention. My best friend and I got to watch the church men build the nativity set from the ground up. We watched farmers deliver sheep and a live donkey. I must admit there was slight disdain on our part because the portrayal of Christ’s birth took up the space where we usually played kickball for two weeks. We were children with limited space for our daily play. I know God understood our childlike innocence.
We worked in thirty-minute shifts as angels and shepherds. When our hands felt like they might freeze, we changed places with opposing actors. Just when our hands thawed, they offered us hot chocolate and cookies. The chocolate burned our tongues, but the marshmallows had to be eaten before they lost their foam. We traded burned tongues for frozen hands for about three hours and loved every minute of it.
I vividly remember how the wise men rotated bringing gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The shepherds knelt with their sheep. My big brother wore a bathrobe and headdress. The manger was in the spotlight, and I remember worshipping in my own childlike way. “And He shall reign forever and ever.” At such an impressionable age, it was a privilege to portray one of the angels who witnessed the birth of Jesus.
Theresa Parker Pierce lives in Historic Salisbury, North Carolina, where she enjoys spending time with family and friends. She has thirty-five years of experience teaching reading and history. She has a Master’s degree in education and is National Board-certified. two-time Rowan Salisbury Teacher of the Year, Theresa enjoys storytelling about her childhood in eastern North Carolina and the history of life in Rowan County.
Her manuscript, Up Dunn’s Mountain, won first place for Young Adult Literature at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in 2020. The sequel, Miss Clairmont’s Christmas, won third place for Novellas in 2022. Most recently, her poem Mrs. Claus Bakes was published in Christmas Spirit. The sales of this collection will benefit Samaritan’s Purse.
Theresa is a member of Word Weavers International, Blue Ridge Christian Writers, Room at the Table, and the 540 Club. She writes monthly for Senior Savvy magazine. She shares her volunteer time between the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer and the Rowan Museum in Salisbury.
Please enjoy this Christmas post by my friend Diane Virginia Cunio.
While shoppers hurried into the mall to escape the winter winds, I was acutely aware of one man who, instead, was ambling to the entrance, methodically tapping his cane. He touched the door. Then he paced ten steps away. Dropping to his knees, he placed his hat on the ground for tips and pulled an instrument from his tattered jacket. With flute in hand, the man played Silent Night, The First Noel, and Drummer Boy. I was enthralled by his passion, and the angelic sound resonating from his instrument. Passersby stopped long enough to listen.
As people returned to the scurry of activities that so easily defines the Christmas season, I remained. A mother dropped a coin in the man’s overturned hat. A teenager handed the flutist a water bottle. It was my chance to talk to him.
“Excuse me, sir,” I said, “Do you play secular songs, too?”
“Naw. They don’t interest me.”
“I thought you’d say that. So, why do you play?”
“Does anybody ever take your money? I mean, you wouldn’t know it seeing as…”
“I sees those that takes with me ears. But, if all they wants is the coins, they can have ‘em. I play ‘cause I want ‘em to have a song in they’s heart like I’s got in mine.”
“Thank you, sir. I’d ask you to play me another song, but I don’t have cash…”
“Set yerself down. I’s playin’ fer ya.”
With that instruction, I sat. The flutist played Mary Did You Know. I felt a warmth erase the cold wind whipping onto the sidewalk from the nearby alley.
I learned something that day. Although the gentleman was blind and poor, his spirit was free. The song of the Lord that resided within the flutist gave him a joy no one could take.
Let’s talk about Mary. Why did God choose her to birth the Savior? She, as the flutist, trusted God to direct the course of her life. She believed God sent the Angel Gabriel who appeared to her during her prayer time. She permitted the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit as He placed a Son within her virgin womb; “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35b KJV) She believed Gabriel’s report and made haste to visit her cousin Elizabeth who also was with child.
The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee:
therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35b KJV
Because of Mary’s reliance upon God, the Bible records her as being the most highly favored woman; “Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” (Luke 1:28b KJV)
There is one more characteristic about Mary that made her God’s choice. She, as the flutist, had a song in her heart that no one could take away. Her song, The Magnificat, also known as The Canticle of Mary, is a declaration of her beliefs about God (see Luke 1:46-56).
What did Mary sing? She sang about being surprised to learn she was God’s humble and favored servant who would give birth to the Savior. She glimpsed the impact of Christ’s birth—that it would bless not only her generation, but ours as well. Expectedly, she sang about God’s sovereignty.
Mary’s simple faith reminds me of the flutist’s. He was not concerned about the troubles around him. He had no sight—he used other methods to ‘see.” His coat was threadbare—he did not focus on the weather. People stole his offerings—silver was not his motivation. Rather than focusing on these outward things, the flutist concentrated on expressing the song within his spirit. Sharing his talent with others brought him satisfaction. And perhaps, this humble flutist is—like Mary—chosen, favored, and blessed. And, may I suggest to you, that when we focus on King Jesus rather than on our circumstances, God’s favor descends upon us as well?
Would Mary have a difficult journey? Sure, she would, and she knew that. But, she kept a song in her heart when the challenges came. As gossipers talked about Mary’s premarital pregnancy, she kept singing. When she and Joseph fled from wicked King Herod, I imagine Mary whispered lullabies into her child’s ears. When her Son lie upon the cross, beaten, and dying a horrible death, blood pooling at her bended knees, I am certain Mary had at least one chord from her Spirit-song residing in her wounded soul. When He arose, the whole world sang, as did Mary.
Christmas is a time to resurrect the song of the Lord that He’s placed within you. Do you hear it? Listen closely…. The Great Flutist has written a melody on the recesses of your heart that will touch future generations. Allow Emmanuel—God with us—to overtake your soul.
And behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son,
and shalt call his name JESUS. Luke 1:31
Mary’s Song is a fictional story closely based on real life events.
Copyright © 2017: All Rights Reserved: Mary’s Song: VineWords: Author Diane Virginia Cunio; Pen Name, Diane Virginia: All Rights Reserved: http://www.vinewords.net/marys-song/devotion
About the Author
Diane Virginia Cunio is the author of The Kiss of Peace: An Intimate Exploration into Song of Solomon (awaiting publication). She is passionate about sharing Beloved Jesus’ divine love for you, His bride, as allegorically portrayed in the vignette, Song of Solomon.
She has developed the model for motion-activated musical prayer-stations for use in the garden retreat, themed to the places you as Beloved’s bride travel to in Song of Solomon.
Diane is a regular contributor for Christian Broadcasting Network. She has written for Faith Beyond Fear, Pentecostal Publishing House, The Secret Place, and other ministries.
To schedule Diane as a speaker, please contact her via her website: Stories and Devotions Inspired by the Vine. You may find her on Facebook or contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.