You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things (Rom. 2:1 NIV).
In the play The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, we get to know the six Herdman kids. They are town terrors — they lie, smoke, cuss, and bully others at school. They never attend church. And, for all the other kids in town, this is a blessing.
Church is the one place the town kids can find some protection and peace – until the day the Herdman kids show up for Sunday school.
Invading the class, these inventively awful kids ask the teacher lots of questions like, “Why don’t they call him Bill instead of Jesus?” and “Why don’t they give Christmas a better name, like ‘Revenge at Bethlehem?’”
How do kids like the Herdmans wind up in a Christmas story? The same way that we do. They receive patience and mercy they do not earn or fully understand.
Whenever wayward children of God receive grace they do not deserve, that’s the real Christmas story – and what makes it real to us. When we witness blessings to wandering wisemen, lowly shepherds, delinquent Herdmans, or our wayward hearts, then the story carries the meaning God intended.
Ultimately the beauty of the Christmas story touches us, when we realize that we are in Christ’s pageant story, too. We who were undeserving of welcoming him were welcomed by him, and can tell others of his love for kids as awful as we.
Father, help me remember the grace that claimed me more that the merits I would claim. Make Jesus beautiful to and through me by the transformation in me that reflects how much I appreciate his patience and mercy toward me.