But for me, the Christmas begins with the L'Arche Edmonton Annual Christmas Pageant, an evening like no other. Come join us on December 12, 7 p.m. at St Thomas D'Aquin Church, 8410, 89 Street. An international group composed of many of the L'Arche community's musicians lead a carol service as the Christmas story is enacted by people with and without disabilities, in colourful costumes and with great joy and excitement that sometimes erupts in dancing. I think even Ebeneezer Scrooge would find it impossible to walk away saying, "Bah, humbug." The evening usually includes an international version of Silent Night, sung in the original German, and all the languages represented by the L'Arche community -- I think they may number 14 this year -- and will conclude with refreshments and our annual Craft Sale. If you would like to bring donations for the Edmonton Food Bank, we'll be happy to receive them.
What I really love about the L'Arche Pageant is that, to me, it is the clearest example of what Jesus came to do. He was all about love and inclusion, forgiveness and friendship, celebration and gratitude. Christian churches mean well with their solemn Christmas services, but somehow, the way the L'Arche community celebrates seems more in line with the kind of joy and togetherness that Jesus wanted for all of us. Watching how our people with and without disabilities interact and care for one another in the midst of all the fun and celebration reminds me that Christmas is all about being one big human family, a family of people who love each other just as we are.
Jean Vanier, the founder of L'Arche, speaks of his community in these words:
I come here to tell you how much life these people have given me, that they have an incredible gift to bring to our world, that they are a source of hope, peace and perhaps salvation for our wounded world.
- Jean Vanier, From Brokenness to Community, p.9