You never know what might happen at Christmas in the Barn, the live Christmas pageant that Faith, North Windham, Maine, has presented for more than a decade.
Sometimes a chicken flies up and joins the angels on stage. The donkey may decide that it wants to join in with the Christmas carols and bray. A llama may do what llamas do and spit. And no one is sure if the baby will sleep through the event or wake up and cry.
You never know, said Jocelia Hartwell, the parishioner at whose barn in Gorham, Maine, the pageant is staged.
The realism adds meaning to the story, according to Hartwell and Pr. David Thorp. It gives a sense of the humility of the season, added the pastor. Its not all the glitz in all of the stores. Seeing the story of the inn at Bethlehem is a reminder that sometimes we have no room at the inn for the spiritual side of Christmas. We fill ourselves with so much of the trappings of the season that theres no room in our hearts.
Seeing the farm animals also allows people to get back in touch with our food sources and what goes into caring for these animals, said Pr. Thorp. Among the animals are llamas, which play the part of camels because they are in the same family, as well as goats, cows, horses and a miniature donkey. Hay bales are piled on top of each other to provide seating for the audience and to create a rustic atmosphere.
The free pageant draws about 125 visitors, some from other churches, and some who dont attend a church. The audience joins the cast in singing Christmas hymns and carols.
Pr. Thorp said that the opportunity to sing is unique because as a community weve sort of lost our song. Christmas in the Barn, he said, is about building relationships.
Excerpted from Lakes Neighbors: All join in for Nativity in the barn, Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram, Dec. 20, 2007, staff writer Tess Nacelewicz