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The Christmas Uncantata: A Responsive Reading for Christmas

Ldr: You are about to participate in The Christmas Uncantata.

Cong: Yes, yes, fine. But where’s the choir?

Ldr: There is no choir in The Christmas Uncantata.

Cong: Where are the other musicians, then?

Ldr: There are no musicians, just you and me.

Cong: Are you going to sing, or will you play an instrument?

Ldr: Neither. There will be no singing in The Christmas Uncantata and no musical accompaniment. There is only the music of the Word.

Cong: The Word? Now wait! We didn’t come here for a sermon. We came to hear music.

Ldr: There will be music.

Cong: With no singers and no musicians?

Ldr: You really came here to receive a blessing, didn’t you?

Cong: Yes, we did. We came to be blessed with Christmas music, and we’re getting impatient. Let’s get on with it!

Ldr: You are impatient. What’s wrong? Aren’t you comfortable? Blessings should be comfortable, shouldn’t they?

Cong: Well, actually, the pews are getting hard.

Ldr: Ah, so you’re not comfortable then. Why do you stay?

Cong: Because we’re determined to receive our blessing. When will the music begin?

Ldr: It’s being practiced still to be perfected for the glory of God. Perhaps the time for a worthy hearing is near.

Cong: But we must be out of here within the hour!

Ldr: Otherwise there is no blessing?

Cong: Well, we must get home to our Christmas dinners.

Ldr: True. Sacrifices and blessings don’t seem to mix well together, do they?

Cong: Uh, well…

Ldr: You came for a blessing. But if you want to hear music, you must begin to listen. What do you hear in your mind’s ear?

Cong: The sounds of a stable. Much too cacophonous to call music.

Ldr: Perhaps. What else do you hear?

Cong: A woman groaning in anguish and a man trying to reassure her.

Ldr: Is that all?

Cong: No, there’s a…it’s a baby crying. It sounds quite young.

Ldr: Do you hear music yet?

Cong: No, none.

Ldr: What about the Baby?

Cong: What about him?

Ldr: There is your music. His is the blessing you seek.

Cong: The Baby? But he’s only crying. What music is there in that? We were expecting to hear a choir of angels.

Ldr: Could a choir of angels give a better blessing?

Cong: But the Baby is a child of poverty. What does he have to give?

Ldr: As the son of Mary alone, nothing. But also as the Son of God, everything.

Cong: But he sounds so limited. He’s crying as if he were hungry, scared, and helpless.

Ldr: And there is the music you wanted to hear.

Cong: Music in the helpless crying of a baby?

Ldr: Yes. What could bless our lives better than the realization that such an Almighty Being as God could love us to become one of us?

Cong: We’re beginning to hear something!

Ldr: Before God came to earth as a baby, he was a far-distant and little-understood quality.

Cong: It…it’s music!

Ldr: God showed that he loves and understands us by being willing to undergo hunger, fear, and helplessness himself.

Cong: It’s beautiful music!

Ldr: And God showed us that no care and problem—including death itself—is insurmountable when we face it with his help.

Cong: What exquisite melodies!

Ldr: And is there harmony?

Cong: Yes! Perfect harmony between the spirit of God and my own soul!

Ldr: So you do hear the music, then?

Cong: Yes!

Ldr: And you’re not disappointed?

Cong: No, not in the least.

Ldr: And you’ve found the blessing you came here for?

Cong: Yes…and no.

Ldr: No?

Cong: No…you see, we should be able to leave here…

Ldr: Go on.

Cong: We should be able to go home to our Christmas dinners…

Ldr: And?

Cong: And we should continue to feel blessed. But now that we’re preparing to leave, the blessing has already started to diminish, and the music sounds far, far away.

Ldr: Ah. But that is because you came only to receive a blessing. You didn’t realize that there is a responsibility involved—a sacrifice. You are to bear the blessing as well as to receive it.

Cong: But we are sometimes hungry, fearful, and helpless.

Ldr: Yes, and so was the baby. Yet the baby became a man and left us a helper so that we wouldn’t need to continue suffering helplessly.

Cong: God help us to bless the hungry, the fearful, and the helpless.

Ldr: Amen!