June 12, 2016
A few years ago during Advent, my daughter with Down Syndrome was excited to participate in our annual Christmas pageant. She was in preschool at the time, and the littlest members of the congregation were traditionally given minor parts and did not attend regular rehearsals. They simply showed up the day of, did their part, and warmed worshipers’ hearts. That year, preschoolers were to be little lambs singing “Away in a Manger,” but my daughter’s speech was so limited that we just practiced the song in sign language. The day of the pageant arrived, and the lambs donned their woolen ears and gathered at the front of the church. The director went forward and whispered to the two children standing beside my daughter, then cued the music. Both children held my daughter’s hands tightly, preventing her from signing—presumably to keep her in her spot. I watched helplessly from the pew as she squirmed and fussed, desperately trying to free her hands to sign the words she had labored to learn. I was heartbroken, but I prayed for the director and tried to let go of that lost moment.
Several years passed, and Advent season rolled around. Now a first grader, my daughter was to play a larger role in the pageant. She was cast as an angel with a small speaking part and a verse of Scripture to memorize. The director kept me in the loop throughout the process, and together we modified her lines to utilize only sounds she was capable of producing clearly, so that the congregation could better understand her. After weeks of practice, she was able to say, “Do not be afraid. I have good news. Today is born a Savior, Christ the Lord.” On the day of the pageant, one could not find an angel in all the heavenly host more pleased than my sweet girl. She was leading worship and proclaiming the gospel, a moment I will never forget.
Cyndi Johnson with the Rev. Bebe Baldwin, leadership members of Presbyterians for Disability Concerns, a network of the Presbyterian Health, Education & Welfare Association
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray
Eternal God, in every moment of our lives, may we honor and engage all your children in the work of proclaiming your word and building your kingdom. In the name of Christ Jesus, we pray. Amen.