And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” (Luke 1:46)
When I was young, having fun was easy. A stick became a gun, and I was running through the woods playing army. If I went swimming, I became Aqua Man. Stuck in my room, you just pull out the football cards and create a game. The Minnesota Vikings won every game they played in my room. I had to have a huge creative streak, to have the Vikings win every game!
Sadly, most of us were told we had to grow up and become more serious. Being serious included putting aside the childish ways of playing pretend. These “helpful” adults stripped us of our fun and the magical world of pretend – just when we needed it most. I regularly pray for our High Schoolers. They are told they are too old to pretend; but pretending helps decide what they want to do and be in their life. Playing pretend as a child and young adult helped me recognize my call to ministry.
Playing pretend can also help us face life’s difficult challenges. I asked a friend who lost his wife, how he overcame the grief and faced his new reality. He said that while she was sick with cancer, he thought about what life would be without her. It felt morbid, but he needed to do it in order to prepare his mind for the worst reality he could imagine. If he could imagine this new reality, he could face it, because he already experienced it in his mind.
What can make the Christmas story even more meaningful is pretending you are in the story. Perhaps you are one of the shepherds. Maybe you are just the fly on the wall. The more you are able to envision the faces of Mary, Joseph, the baby Jesus, the angel, shepherds and others you add, the more the story comes alive. At that point, the Christmas story becomes your story, and God speaks to you in an even more creative way. Pretend, and let the Spirit speak.