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Pastor Bo Wagner

A passage from Luke 2:10-11: "And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord."

It was half an hour to curtains at our church Christmas play. I was quickly rushing from the fellowship hall to the church to grab one last thing. As I did, out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a black gentleman, one of our deacons, using a blower to clear some debris off of the walkway between the two buildings. I had meant to do that but simply got busy with a million other things and did not have enough time. And so this deacon, genuinely one of the finest men I have ever known, without even being asked, saw the need and took care of it.

Our drama for the year was "A Hillbilly Christmas Carol," one that I wrote 23 years ago and then rewrote for this year. It follows the life and conversion of the great-nephew of Ebenezer Scrooge, Ebubbanezer Scrooge, who settled down here in America in the mountains of Tennessee.

I, the half Puerto Rican, quarter Lebanese, quarter French guy, played the lead role, mostly because no one else had the time to memorize quite that many lines, and no one else really wanted to be karate-flipped by the spirit of Christmas past.

Our narrator was white. She is also a she. Yet choosing her as the narrator was the easiest choice imaginable. She is animated and phenomenal in any role, and in this case, pulled off Charlene Dickens, the hillbilly granddaughter of Charles Dickens, with ease. Seated beside her, on the keyboard, was our Hawaiian classical pianist, who provided the musical scores between scenes. His son was the loudest singer in our hillbilly youth choir. Their task was to sing "Joy to the World" as horribly as possible (before finally getting it perfect at the end of the play) and he absolutely crushed it. Had people holding their ears while laughing and shaking their heads.

The young man who played Ebubbanezer in his 20s is from Mexico. His buddy, confronting him about his budding life of sin, is an honest to goodness American cowboy.

Old, dying Ebubbanezer was my uncle, who is Lebanese and French. Helping with the cookie and coffee reception afterward was one of our sweet ladies from Costa Rica. And, while mentioning so many folks of foreign descent, I should probably say a kind word about the many proud Yankees helping out as well; they laughingly consider themselves foreigners amongst all of our twang.

It's sort of odd, really, to consider a play about Tennessee hillbillies made possible by blacks, whites, Mexicans, Costa Ricans, Hawaiians, Middle Eastern/Europeans and whatever it is that I am. But when you consider it in light of that invitation God sent through the angel to "all people," I suppose it really isn't odd at all. When understood properly, there is nothing at all more truly unifying than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God sent his only Son to be born of a virgin and live a sinless life and die on Calvary for every sinner of every race, tribe and people. Then he rose from the dead and commissioned his followers to take that message to all the world.

When people get born again, as Jesus phrased it to Nicodemus in John 3, they become literal family. All of those people I mentioned earlier? They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. We have the same heavenly Father. We are going to live in the same place forever. And as to the common grievances continuously used as wedges to divide us by unscrupulous political hacks and, sadly, many preachers whose grasp of theology is tenuous as best, all of us understand that we have all been forgiven of our sins and that we are made one in Christ. We have been taught to forgive one another on that basis, and Scripture has also made it very clear that everyone will answer for themselves before God, not for their parents or grandparents or great-grandparents etc.

It is a pretty peaceful, joyful way to live, actually. When all people take Christ up on his offer, the most amazing things are possible. It is an even greater miracle than the fictitious miracle of three spirits visiting a covetous, greedy old sinner in the grand old city of London or his hillbilly great-nephew in the mountains of Tennessee.

I highly recommend it.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at www.wordofhismouth.com. Email him at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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