In many churches, today is Christmas Pageant Sunday. It’s the Sunday before Christmas Eve, so everyone is excited at the end of all of this advent waiting time, and the pastors are relieved that the children, youth and adult volunteers have put together something spectacular while we continue to put the finishing touches on the Christmas Eve Candle Light Service. This year, Third Church had a virtual pageant complete with outtakes. Younger children were dressed as angels and sheep and their parents filmed them at home. Notably, one angel added to her lines “that’s it” and other angel asked if we had any questions. One sheep simply said, “bah” and another sheep asked for snacks. The old kids wrote in a bit about time machines, dinosaurs, and star wars and performed some comic and poignant parts of the Christmas story. It was cute and heart-warming and very Third Church-y. Afterwords we talked about our favorite moments of this pageant and pageant’s past. After church, I picked up a new book and remembered the story about a pageant I didn’t get to see.
My friend, the Rev. Katy Steinberg, titled her book after a moment from Missing Peace‘s Christmas pageant, Pink Haired Mermaid Baby Jesus. Katy’s worshiping community does not meet in the same sanctuary each week, but instead, travels around the community of Ormond Beach Florida engaging with their community. The trunk of Katy’s white mini van carries a few worship aids from place to place, battery operated candles, worship scripts, creativity, and love. Her Missing Peace window decal is easily spotted for those looking for her in the meeting places. In tow are her husband, daughters and occasionally her snow bird friend from Pittsburgh. I like to visit in the bleak mid winter for the warm weather and friendship (for obvious reasons, it didn’t happen this year). I always come home thinking about all of the different ways I’ve connected with the divine. Katy sees God at work everywhere, and I love spending time just doing life with her. As I tag along for coffee, yoga, grocery shopping, meetings, a quick stop at the local brewery to confirm the next event, picking the girls up from school, I watch Katy connect with friends, neighbors, community leaders, children, and the divine. And as we hop back into the mini van, Katy asks questions about what God is up to in the place or with the person we interacted with.
Rev. Katy Steinberg shares honestly about the times when things do not go as she planned and what she has learned, along with the ways those in her community share with each other how they experience holy moments in their lives. This is a beautiful and vulnerable look at a faith community though the loving eyes of their pastor. Missing Peace engages in spiritual, physical, cerebral and service practices as they seek to encounter the divine. Rev. Katy encourages the reader to reflect on those practices and perhaps look at faith in a new way. Pink Haired Mermaid Baby Jesus reminds me of the multitude of ways we can encounter God in our less-than-perfect lives.
The book may inspire anyone who is disenchanted with traditional church institutions or loves them deeply. As a pastor, I was thrilled to see that Rev. Katy included in the last section a little about how she has structured events for the faith communities time together. The book was inspiring for my faith, and for my professional life.
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