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Begin at the Beginning

December 23, 2011

Last Christmas we started a new family tradition of watching “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” based on the book by Barbara Robinson. My girls get a kick out of the “naughty kids,” as they call them. The Herdmans are awful—six kids who lie, cheat, steal, swear, beat up other kids, and even smoke cigars! They live in a rundown garage and are menaces all around town while their mother works double shifts. The welfare services lady drops by often to make sure they haven’t burnt something down (again) or killed each other—or someone else, for that matter.


So the rottenest kids walk into Sunday School one week to get free donuts, and they bully themselves into the Christmas pageant as lead characters. However, not one of the Herdmans has ever read a Bible or heard the “Christmas story.” They ask a bunch of questions: Who were the shepherds? Where did they come from? What was the inn? What is an “inn”? Why did Joseph and Mary go there?


Finally, Imogene Herdman begs Mrs. Bradley, the mom in charge of the pageant, to “begin at the beginning.”


Have you read “begun at the beginning” this Christmas? Have you read the “Christmas story” as if for the first time?


The Herdman children are intrigued by the story in the Book of Luke. They ask a million more questions:

  • Why wasn’t there room in the inn—even for Jesus?
  • Why didn’t Mary tell everybody that her baby was Jesus so they would make room for Him?
  • Why didn’t Joseph step up and tell everybody that Mary was pregnant with Jesus?
  • Why did Mary put her baby in a barn?
  • What was “wadded up clothes”?
  • Why didn’t Mary get to name the baby? (Imogene would have called Him Bill.)
  • How did the angel tell Mary what Jesus’ name was? Did he just walk up and say, “Name Him Jesus”?
  •  If Jesus’ name was “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace,” how did He write all of that when He was in first grade?
  • Why did Herod plan to kill the baby when He was just born?
  • Why were the wise men a bunch of dirty spies?

Have you ever wondered about these questions? Have you ever thought about all the details about the birth of Jesus? Have you ever wondered about the What? How? Why?


This Christmas, “begin at the beginning” and ask God for a renewed mind and heart with which to read the details of Jesus’ birth from His Word. Pray that the words become more than a story read once a year—pray that it impacts you, your family, and all others around you. Pray that this Christmas, perhaps for the first time ever, you receive the message God gives … the message that Gladys Herdman learns by the end of the book:

“For Unto Us a Child Is Born!”


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