This has become a classic line in Freedom House’s ‘The Living Nativity’ that annually fills Harmony Square with Christmas revelers. It’s a funny, off the cuff, line delivered by Freedom House Pastor Brian Beattie who (dressed as a shepherd) has come to see the newly born Christ child… in Harmony Square of course.
The line has it’s roots in the origins of The Living Nativity itself. When Beattie was proposing that this show be done in Harmony Square, he was asked by Parks and Rec’s Lori Dawn Cavin, “What’s the Living Nativity?” Beattie replied, “Well it’s the traditional Christmas story. Mary and Joseph ride a donkey and have a baby. Then Shepherds come and say, ‘We really like your baby’ then we sing some songs and go home.” It became such an endearing exchange between the two that often they still sign emails between one another, “WRLYB” for “We really like your baby.” And the line is still used in our play today.
But it’s a powerful thought when you think about it’s historical, demographic and current-cultural context. The singing and dancing shepherds (of which I am one) provide the comic relief in The Living Nativity. Over the years we started writing an annual pop-culture feature into their tomfoolery. The shepherds have danced to Gangdam Style, Thriller, What Does the Fox Say and who could forget last year’s Do You Want to Build a Snowman. You’ll have to come and see the show for yourself to find out what we’re going to spring on the crowd this year.
Historically however, shepherds… were shepherds. Go figure right? They were just common folks who watched the sheep. Then something amazing happened. Heaven and Earth collided and heaven couldn’t keep quiet about it. Remember when Charlie Brown was struggling to find out what Christmas was all about? Well his little buddy Linus remembered. Linus quoted a Doctor named Luke. Luke wasn’t actually there when this happened… but it impacted him greatly. He became a follower of Jesus, AFTER Jesus was with us on the earth. Dr. Luke was traveling around with other followers, physically caring for those who were sharing the good news and in the marketplace. Linus and Luke said this:
“And there were in the same country shepherds, abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them! And they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, ‘Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, which shall be to all my people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ, the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.’ And suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the Heavenly Host praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth peace, and goodwill toward men.’”
You can just hear Linus saying that can’t you? And he added in his drop-the-mic moment, “That’s what Christmas is about.” The shepherds ran to see the collision of heaven and earth. I’m sure they weren’t very eloquent. They were just ordinary folks like you and me. There’s no record what the shepherds said when they arrived, but “We really like your baby” is as good a guess as anything else. Heaven and Earth collided to make a way for us, still today in Brantford to find peace, love, hope and freedom. Let heaven and nature sing. Let’s do it together again as a community.
This will be the 6th annual Living Nativity from December 11-13. We estimate about 12,000 people have come to Harmony Square to see this show during it’s run. There are 2 shows nightly, at 7pm and 8pm. There is Christmas caroling and free hot chocolate before the show starts too so come early to get a good spot. Freedom House also welcomes you to share a family Christmas Eve service with us called “One Light” at 6pm. Find us online at www.freedomhouse.ca
*Photos by Ida at "Brant Photos" linked here.