The Joy of Tableaux

From Rev. Erik Buss, Assistant to the Chaplain
December 10, 2019

This is tableaux week, one of the best weeks of my year, even if it is very busy. It is such a joy to see 120+ people give up a lot of time to be part of depicting the Lord’s birth on earth. The wonderful thing is that many people who participate say this is the best part of Christmas for them. I’ve heard several say this is their Christmas.
In a lot of ways it’s totally understandable. The Christmas story is magical and holy, and participating in making it happen means you are wrapped up in the most important story ever told for a week or more. And the songs are amazing, the camaraderie heart-warming, and seeing each of the beautiful babies in the manger deeply touching.
But I think a big part of what makes being a part in the tableaux so special is that those people are involved. They are not merely experiencing Christmas, but putting it on for others. Christmas has a lot of other duties and expectations that can be taxing, even if they are fun. Cleaning the house, decorating, baking, buying presents are all wonderful things to do, but I often hear people comment on the stress that they also create in their lives. By contrast, being involved in the tableaux, though time consuming, doesn’t have that stress. It’s a gift that gives back to the giver in the way the Lord speaks of angels receiving back more than they give. People often talk about how amazing and touching it is to come up to see the baby Lord surrounded by singing shepherds. Now imagine what it is to be one of those shepherds seeing the joy in children’s faces, seeing the response of people who have been coming to the tableaux for decades, noticing those who, once they have seen the baby Lord, run to the back of the line so they can come up again to get another look at that beautiful baby while surrounded by songs of joy and praise. It is as if the angels were singing through you. Each time I see Gabriel appear and depict with joy the amazing news he brings, I think what a gift it is to embody that beautiful message. Each of the other scenes does the same thing for me.
I know for me it is such a joy and a privilege to be part of bringing to life the precious story of the Lord’s birth. I love using the Lord’s own words, and then doing our very best to visually depict what is already there. It is not so much about our creating something as it is about getting out of the way so that what is already beautifully present can be revealed. I hope you will make it to the tableaux this week, and that the depiction of the Lord’s birth will mirror a new birth in you of joy, and peace, and hope.

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