Last Friday I received a call. It was the casting director of the Boar's Head and Yule Log Festival at our church, University Christian Church of Fort Worth.
What’s the Boar’s Head? The Festival is a pageant featuring a cast of over 300 who re-enact the ancient celebration that marks the end of Epiphany. In the first half of the pageant, medieval marching companies in authentic costumes of Renaissance England, sing ancient carols along with the congregation. The second half features the original Christmas story, as shepherds and Wise Men travel to Bethlehem to bring gifts to the Christ Child. Mary, Joseph and the baby are revealed at the climax.
My brother and I have been in the Boar’s Head cast since middle school. We’ve been part of the plum pudding and mince pie companies, Cooks, Heralds, Waits, and Wassailers (as in Here We Come A Wassailing). The festival has become a part of my history in a really fun way.
Can you guess what’s coming next?
On Friday, the casting director informed me that there had been a last minute illness and a glaring vacancy in the cast. The festival needed a Baby Jesus!!! Oh and a Mary and Joseph too. Would we be willing to fill in for the next day’s performance? Can a get an “Amen”?!
I would like to pat myself on the back for acting against my natural drama nerd impulses and asking Ben first. After all, Joseph was the wordly father of Jesus – an integral part to say the very least. I needed his buy in. For some crazy reason he also acted against his natural impulses and actually agreed. With Ben’s blessing and complicity, Marryn and I headed to dress rehearsal. I honestly could not have been more excited!
The first day of Marryn’s showbusiness career dawned brightly. Since she was so charming and happy that morning, I had to wonder, did she know what was expected of her later? We arrived at church and proceeded to get into costume. While I wrestled with my virginal head dress, Ben was outfitted with a lot of fake facial hair. Like A LOT - bless him. Marryn’s costume was more about what to hide than what to put on. The church gave us some swaddling clothes to strategically place over her…well…you know.
Before we knew it, it was time to stuff the Holy Family into the triptych, i.e. manger. Why this has to happen at the quietest time of the pageant, I’ll never know. Of course Murphy’s Law was in full effect and Marryn started crying. Did I mention that Baby Jesus cannot wear a diaper either? Again…Murphy’s Law…no diaper…expensive costumes…excessive urination.
However, all that mattered not when the music crescendoed, the 300+ cast kneeled in adoration, and the triptych doors were opened onto my little family channeling the most storied little family there is. It was a beautiful perfect moment as Ben lifted Marryn to the heavens as our Christ and Savior. I’m surprised I could even see her through the tears of pride streaming down my face.
I’m so proud and thankful that Ben, Marryn, and I had this experience. It’s one of the things I’ll always keep and ponder in my heart.