I’m sitting here in row “L” of Clowes Hall on the campus of Butler University in Indianapolis. It’s intermission and Janet and I are watching “The Nutcracker” – that annual holiday favorite that so many of us have grown up with. It has particular meaning to us this year because it is the first time that our niece, Emily, has been in a university production since she enrolled in Butler this fall. She is quite a dancer and was accepted into the Jordan School of Fine Arts, arguably one of the finest schools of its kind in the country. Aside from being proud of her, Janet and I wanted to show our support for Emily’s effort. After all, she is far from her home in Williamsburg, VA and we are kind of her surrogate parents when she is in town.
Anyway, the first act is over and we are getting ready for the lights to dim, so I will have to finish this later. Got to get back to the show, if you know what I mean…
Okay – it’s over, the final number with the entire cast. To be honest, Emily was one of the mice in this year’s production. It’s not a real glamorous role, but she’s a freshman and I respect that the upperclassmen get the plum parts (no pun intended).
If you are unfamiliar with the story, it revolves around a party that a wealthy couple throws at their estate each Christmas Eve. A friend of the family makes magical toys and the entire ballet production revolves around the magic that happens after the guests leave and the various toys come to life. The “Nutcracker” is a toy that comes to life, becomes life size and eventually turns into a prince. The music is as famous as the story and I have to admit that I recalled my own childhood attending the production with my parents years ago.
Mom loved the music and I remember it was one of the few albums that we had. She played it until it almost wore out and each time I heard the music for the Russian dancers or the Sugar Plum Fairy, I would watch Mom just beam with excitement as she listened to the music. Tonight I smiled as I recalled those days back on Claremont Avenue as the album played while my mother made cranberry bread in the kitchen.
We actually spotted Emily as the cast came on stage at the end of the ballet tonight. It’s been a long time since our own kids were in college, so Janet and I are once again getting used to college productions. We tried to wait around for Emily to come out from behind the stage, but Janet was really tired, the crowds were trying to get out and we made the decision to finally head out. Sure enough, it wasn’t 5 minutes later that Emily called and wanted to know if we were still in the house. Regrettably, we weren’t.
But it’s so good to have her around. We’ll have to get her out here to Carmel during the holidays. After all, remember that we spent 3 days decorating the house, so somebody better see it!
As I reflect back on the theatre this evening, I can’t help but be reminded that the “Nutcracker” takes place on Christmas Eve – the same evening that Santa makes his rounds with toys for girls and boys around the world. Sure enough, it is a magical time for kids, but it’s also a miraculous time for those of us who are Christians. Because it the eve of the day that we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
And it’s not really about the toys and the gifts – or the ham in the oven for Christmas dinner. In fact, it’s not about Scrooge or the Radio City Rockettes either – although those are great things to do around the holidays as well. It’s about the birth of the hope of the world – Jesus Christ.
The verse for tonight is one that you are most familiar with. In fact, I may use it more than once this season. From Isaiah 9:6, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
My encouragement this season is that we serve a God who wants you to have a miraculous Christmas. My prayer is that you will experience the Prince of Peace first hand and in the midst of all the strife, you will relax a little and know that Jesus has you covered – for all eternity. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…