Alice's Voice

A Very Incarnational Christmas

When Henry was ten, he was invited to do a reading in the children’s choir Christmas concert. The reading  from the book of Luke also happens to be what Linus says during A Charlie Brown Christmas. Needless to say, Henry not only knew all the lines, he knew all of Linus’ hand gestures. He nailed it, delivering the whole thing in Linus’ cadence and starting prior to the “And there were in the same country shepherds” verse with the left-out-of-the-canon, “Lights, please?” It was a pretty significant moment in all our lives.

Then came the following year. There are 250 kids in the children’s choir at the 9,000 member church, so you don’t get to have a monologue every year. Henry and I had a lengthy discussion about it being some one else’s turn to have a speaking part. His choices were he could sing in the choir or sit in the audience with mom. He said yes to some one else’s turn and to singing in the choir.

Except that every evening he would say to me, “December 12, that’s when it all begins.” Of course, that was the date of the concert.  “Just what would begin?” my nightly response got no answer.

Three days before the concert he presented me with a script that he typed and printed himself. A script for him to perform, on the microphone at the concert.

Here it is, exactly as he typed with his punctuation and capitalizations:

And now… I would like to share my favorite verse.
Kings of kings and all of lords.
It was a neighbor, glory, and all the things that god changes with you.

So this is my personal Christmas wish for you. Something that can make baby Jesus birthday.

If you will have Santa Claus… you’re the Hanukkah. Amen.

Wow. What do you do when you are the parent of that? I wanted to be Mama Rose and say, Sing Out Louise! and demand of his teachers that my little genius get his moment at the microphone.

Madonna & Child

While we’re on the subject of genius, take a moment to compare the words of the prophet Isaiah and the book of John, to Henry’s script.

For Unto us a Child is born
Unto us a son is given.
And the government shall be upon his shoulders
and his name shall be called
Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

The Word became Flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,
John 1:14

It was a neighbor, glory,
and all the things that god changes with you.
Henry Bass

I mean, really. This is incredibly deep stuff about the incarnation of Christ. A neighbor, glory and all the things that god changes with you may rightly sum up all of Christian doctrine.

And then of course, if you’ll have Santa Claus…you’re the Hanukkah. Amen to that, right?!

What I chose to do was talk to his teacher — warn her that this was coming and ask her advice. Knowing Henry well, there was no doubt he would be performing this in some way. I offered some solutions. I’d be happy to stay after the concert and ask the sound tech if Henry could deliver his message to the empty seats. I’d be happy to keep him home from the concert so they weren’t worried about him storming the mic, which he absolutely would do.

Henry and Miss Eleanor

I sent her the script and waited to be told to stay home. She got back to me right away with a plan.  She invited him to read what he had written to the children during rehearsal and with over 250 in the program, that was plenty big of an audience.

December 12th, the night it all begins, started with Miss Eleanor, at the microphone. “Boys and girls, Henry has written something for you as a blessing before you perform so I’m going to ask him to read it now.” Then he joined her and read his script, which was now a prayer.

Nativity by Shirley Triano

I often think I want some preppy version of Henry and some Martha Stewart version of me, where we show up on time, have our hair in place, and are wearing pressed khakis.  One where we fit in. The thing is that we don’t. We don’t fit in. And even Martha Stewart is doing a show with Snoop Dog now, so she’s not what we thought she was.

Not fitting in is the incarnation message of Christmas.  The manger doesn’t make sense. The realness of baby Jesus birthday doesn’t look like what we think glory should look like.  But it is, because…

It was a neighbor,


and all the things that god changes with you.

Merry Christmas.

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