The Fullness of Time
by Mary Connealy
Christmas is drawing near, this most wonderful time of the year.
There is so much about Christmas that calls to so many. Homes full of light and warmth with Christmas trees, apple cinnamon candles, white twinkle lights, family decorations passed down through the generations and carefully treasured nativity sets.
Filling the house with delicious scents of turkey baking and pecan pies. Sweet potatoes and chocolate fudge. Apple cider and popcorn balls.
And the sounds of family, laughter, gifts being torn open by the grandchildren, yes I’m blessed to have four grandbabies. I need more, but for now I am keeping busy.
But when I really sit back and think about highlights of Christmas, I remember a while back—a long while back—I used to be the director of my Sunday school when my own children were little. And for years I also directed the Sunday school Christmas program.
I attend a small church and loved working with those wild and beautiful little boys and girls. But I really struggled to find plays for them.
This was before the internet you know. Even before Christian bookstores. I probably directed the plays for ten years and my biggest problem was finding plays that worked for kids from age three to eighteen—but only a kid or two in each grade. The term is ‘broadly graded.’
We did “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” and a few other classics…and available plays.
But finally, I started to write them myself. At first I wrote one called “Nativity.” A very straightforward telling of the Christmas story. Traditional hymns. Very short, direct and sweet.
But my plays kept getting a bit more fanciful. One where the angel of the Lord scared Joseph into stepping up and doing right by Mary. In fact, that angel of the Lord solved most of the plays problems by whacking people with the wand with a star on top.
In one, my Mary recited The Magnificat found in Luke chapter 1.
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
Then I did one that was sort of a take-off of an old book called The House That Jack Built. Only instead of all the characters in Jack’s story, I have Christmas characters explaining how they symbolize Jesus’ birth.
I did one that had modern people, named after people in my church, being the cast, only played by children. So the man with no room at the inn was the guy who owned our local mini-mart. The wisemen who left their lives behind on a journey that would take years to follow a star were area farmers…and on and on. And I tried to have modern day people act like maybe those so long ago did in Bethlehem.
I had one that was almost a dance. The part I loved had ‘God’ being narrator and he calls out, “It is the fullness of time.” Then he sat down on the front steps leading to our church’s alter and someone put a baby blanket over him and Mary comes and whirls away the blanket and folds it and cradles it in her arms. It was so SYMBOLIC! Sorry, I’m a little weepy as I type. LOL
I did this for many years, always something new. I explored that story of Jesus’ birth and all the details of it over and over, looking for directions to take, looking for passages that sparked my imagination in new ways. That story became so precious to me, so full of power and beauty. And it remains so to this day.
I’d start writing them in summer because I was so nervous about it. I was director, playwright, producer, music director, set designer, and I also had to create the sets, make photo-copies of all the plays for the children, as I type this list I keep remembering more and more.
Man, I’d be about half nuts by curtain time.
And then after one of the plays, a sweet old lady asked if I had print copies of the plays. I misunderstood her and thought she was saying I should get my plays in print.
Well, I was already writing books, and having no luck getting them published. But how about plays? I had the internet by then and did some hunting around to see if anyone published such things. I rewrote and smoothed out two of the plays and sent them to two different publishers.
As a strange twist, it turned out that the lady was about 75% deaf and she just wanted me to print out a copy so she could read it, she hadn’t been able to hear a word! But it was too late, I’d already sent them off!
I sold five of them! The first publisher to say yes to me wanted one and paid me $75 for it. I don’t believe anything that’s happened since has been such a huge thrill for me as that $75. I can still remember that giddy joy. Then another company wanted to see more. They bought four of them.
Something I loved so much and was so uncertain of—and something that was so rooted in my own understanding of the Christmas story—became my first published works.
It was a beautiful Christmas blessing. And this time of year—along with the sights and sounds, the aromas and love, the faith and family of Christmas—I remember a little girl twirling and dancing as she folds a baby blanket and God comes to earth as a baby. I remember a little boy dressed like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer trying to explain how in the world he is connected to Jesus in the manger.
This first sale of a play sent in due to a misunderstanding is one of the sweetest moments in my writing life—a moment rooted in my faith and my Bible reading and my love of God, and the many ways I found to talk about the fullness of time.
Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys. She is a two-time Carol Award winner, and a Rita and Christy finalist. She is the best-selling, award winning author of 48 books.
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