Everybody Needs Sam

by Mary Johnson, Children's and Youth Ministries

At this time of year, I work with various members of the CHC staff to put together the cast for the Christmas Eve Pageant. We have been using the same script for a number of years and in my tenure, the excitement over which role is "the best" one changes from year to year. Some years all the boys want to be Joseph, other years, King Herod. The girls alternate between wanting to be Mary, the Angel Gabriel, or Elizabeth. And with a children's production you never know what will happen: many in the angel choir may be climbing under the choir pews, Mary often forgets the Baby Jesus doll when she and Joseph flee Bethlehem, and it is guaranteed that lines will be altered in the most delightful ways.Sam

While the main cast of characters in the pageant will change from year to year there is one person who will have the same role the fifth time. This will be the 5th year Sam will lead the procession into the sanctuary as he carries the star and proclaims: "People who walk in darkness have seen a great light." Sam has been in roles previous to this continuing one of leading the procession. When he was very young, he loved to be the cow. Then he was a shepherd for a couple of years.
I think this is the role that best describes Sam. Sam is a light for me. He has the greatest smile. In fact, in youth group one night, when the students were asked to identify a gift that God gave them, Sam replied "my smile." He loves trains, music, plays the piano, loves to dance, and is on the high school cross country team. He is on the honor roll and sings in the High School choir. Sam is enthusiastic and non-judgmental, he wakes up happy every morning, and he is a person with autism. Everything I just described is Sam; a light to celebrate. Everyone needs to know Sam and emulate his day-to-day outlook on life.

In a world where there may be darkness or despair, and we hear words that are divisive or cruel, I think of Sam. Those words are not in his vocabulary. We celebrate this season when a Light came into the world to give Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love. My prayer is that we celebrate that which is important this Christmas season and all the days of the year. That we remember our own "Inner Sam" and are a light for all those we meet.