The children of University Lutheran Church were finally able to put on their Christmas play today, having had to postpone it due to the snow in the weeks before Christmas. Being as we are still technically in the Christmas Season, which ends on Epiphany on January 6th, it was still a fitting time. And so today, those congregants who chose to stay after the service were treated to what I believe was the world premiere - correct me if I'm wrong - of A Christmas Wizard of Oz.
You may be wondering what Christmas could possibly have to do with the Wizard of Oz, and you would not be alone. But in this version, it was a blizzard, not a tornado, that ripped Dorothy away from Auntie Em and Uncle Henry, and a snowman, tin soldier, and stuffed lion accompanied her through the ice forest to the Wizard, with Dorothy wishing nothing more than to make it back home before Christmas day so she can open her presents.
You may also wonder what this tale has to do with the story of the Nativity. After all, while Christmas may have been largely secularized in the commercial world, surely one would would still hear of the birth of Jesus in a church. There is a very simple answer to this question: the Wizard of Oz, Christmas or otherwise, has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus. But at the end of the play, with Dorothy safe home in Kansas, delighting over her gifts of a toy soldier and a stuffed lion, and the snowman Uncle Henry built outside, the narrator brought it back to Bethlehem, Charlie Brown style. With all the children gathered around, one of the youngest read the famous passage from the book of Luke, where angels announce the birth of a babe in a manger to some frightened shepherds.
"This is the reason we give gifts at Christmas," the narrator continued. "To remember the greatest Gift, the gift of Jesus."
At that, the audience broke into applause.