NORTH JAVA — Madelyn King delivers her lines during Saturday morning’s dress rehearsal for Holy Family Parish’s nativity play.
As with multiple other churches throughout the area, it’s a Christmas tradition and Madelyn, 11, is among 15 young people participating. The message is a bit heavy at first, with Madelyn playing a daughter talking with her mother about modern holiday expectations and unrealistic goals
Then it segues into the familiar story of Mary and Joseph, and Jesus Christ’s arrival in a Bethlehem manger.
“We’ve been practicing for a couple weeks,” Madelyn said. “It’s fun.”
The church’s Nativity play was written by its religious education students, who range from 4 to 16 years old. It was set to be performed Sunday, as part of the run-up to the Christmas holiday.
Titled “A Christmas Reminder,” it offered a younger person’s perspective in some ways — frazzled parents and frantic smartphone calls, amid the holiday rush, while forgetting the holiday’s religious reality and simple truth.
The young people had been writing and rehearsing the play for several weeks, and it ended with “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.”
“I think they’re unique kids,” said Molly Haungs, who helps teach religious education at the parish. “They wanted to tell the Nativity story, but they wanted to tell in a way other people would be able to relate to, and would be more meaningful. I think that sometimes traditions allow things to get lost, and you can put a different twist on it, and then it becomes something that’s more heartfelt ... That’s what I think they were looking for.”
Likewise most of the churches in the region as they celebrate Christmas.
Rev. Matt Kawiak, the church’s pastor, said he thanked the kids, their parents and teachers for their sacrifices and work throughout the process, including getting up early on a Saturday morning for the dress rehearsal.
And the play indeed has meaning for the wider congregation and community, he said.
“The adults who are going to witness this tomorrow, I know they’re coming, even though they’re busy with holiday shopping, Christmas cookies and parties,” Kawiak said. “I know they’re coming with a lot of hurt and pain from their daily lives, and the purpose of the Nativity scene is to bring hope to people’s lives. It isn’t about the parties and buying the gifts. It’s about needing Jesus in our lives.
That can include anybody from frazzled parents, to older people living alone, to people in broken relationships, or who lost loved ones over the past year.
Kawiak said the church is inviting anybody, of any faith or background, to attend the church’s Christmas Mass at 4:30 p.m. today. Holy Family Parish is part of the Polish National Catholic Church.
“The bottom line is the nativity is a sign there is a God who cares about us and loves us, despite all the brokenness and hurt in our lives,” Kawiak said.