LEWES — It’s the Nativity story with a twist.
Children told the Christmas story during the annual “Darkness into Light” pageant at St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church on Dec. 11.
The annual pageant returned this year after a two-year absence. It features children of the parish with only a single adult role played by John the Baptist, who serves as the narrator.
The pageant is true to Scripture, using actual wording from the Bible, as it moves from Isiah crying in the wilderness to Mary being visited by the angel, Mary with Elizabeth and Zechariah, the Magi, the search for a room in Bethlehem, King Herod’s efforts to find the Christ child and finally, the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt.
Along the way, angels flutter, shepherds receive the Good News and Joseph is visited by an angel in a dream. It’s all told by the children of the parish set against painted murals depicting the Holy Land. Only John the Baptist and a Paschal Candle bearer are adults. The lighted Paschal candle closed the show as the set is removed, leaving only an empty creche and the single light of the candle as the rest of the lights are dimmed.
Songs and music accompany the show and the audience is encouraged to sing along. Pianist Jennifer Barbarita and vocalists Joseph and Ellen Turi performed “Silent Night,” “O, Come, All Ye Faithful,” “Angels We have Heard on High,” “Joy to the World” and other traditional carols.
Dixie Gildon is the producer with Terry Suess directing and Eileen Snyder in charge of wardrobe design. That trio has been at the heart of the show for years. Snyder’s costume design wowed the audience, as it always does, particularly the array of angels in dazzling white.
Michael McShane served as technical director.
St. Jude pastor, Father Brian Lewis, opened the show by leading the audience in prayer.
“We gather because we believe in the light,” he prayed. “Touch our hearts to be moved again and again as little children.”
Director Seuss said “Our lives and hearts are made up of the people we meet … My heart is absolutely full. These kids were wonderful.”
The pageant originally began in 2003 with a very humble start, bathrobes, paper crowns from Burger King and a doll and blanket from the thrift store. This year’s pageant featured nearly 30 children, dozens of costumes and two professional singers as accompaniment.
In 2015, Gildon wrote a short history of the pageant.
“Slowly I began to understand after much prayer that we were not just doing this to teach the children the story,” she said. “We were also doing it to rekindle the minds and hearts of their grownups who had become jaded and forgotten the awesome wonder of a God who loved us so much that he was willing to become one with us and then die for us.”
“We are also in His hands and must remain faithful in our account of His word, so that it rings true in the hearts of our listeners,” she said.
“The responsibility then became almost scary, and thus Eileen Snyder and I have become very protective of the production. It is not just a ‘show’ to entertain the kids and the grownups who come to see them get all dressed up and be in a play. Although we realize we need to be cognizant of the entertainment aspect, our ‘purpose’ is to arouse awe and wonder and joy in the birth of God’s Holy Son.”
A partial cast listing included: AnnaBella Crisci as Mary, Joseph Ohri as Joseph, Grayce Glover as Archangel Gabriel, Natalie Nails as Archangel Michael, Kyli Baridon as Isaiah, Giovana Miranda as Elizabeth, Isac Miranda as Zechariah, Giovanni Crisci as Herod, Sonjay Ohri as John the Baptist, Luciano Crisci, Murilo Almeida and Juliana Turi as Magi and Lane Carter as a Roman Soldier.
Other cast members included: Sophia Connelly, Marc Lopez, Bridget Connelly, Natalie Decoito, Elisa Almeida, Kevy Cax-Trejo, April Rodrigues-Perez, Sophia Clark, Alex Nickerson, Kerry Nickerson, Evangeline Crisci, Emma Connelly, Liam Carter, Kennedy Carter, Kate Liebl, Amanda Rodriguez and Austin Wiswall.
Donations of non-perishable food were accepted at the door.