For his most recent Nativity Play, the Rev. Jerry Gurka created a villain who, under her Grinch-like exterior, is deeply sad and angry.
Her name is Queen Margaret, and while her husband, King Malcolm, is alive, she helps him rule their mysterious, almost-medieval kingdom with kindness toward people and thanks to God.
But when Malcolm is called away to war and killed, Margaret experiences an avalanche of anger and forbids her subjects to celebrate Christmas.
Oh, on second thought, they can buy extra food, gifts and decorations. She wants to receive the royal taxes those purchases will generate.
Shopkeepers, she declares, I command you to keep your stores open all day long on every holiday.
But no one is to pray or go to church or even to refer to the Winter Holiday as Christmas.
So, is Gurka's play a protest against what some pundits have called a war on Christmas?
I wouldn't say a ‘war,' Gurka said. But maybe there's a feeling that people are trying to secularize the spiritual aspect.
It's not that you can't enjoy Santa Claus and all the secular things, he said. And to celebrate the solstice is to celebrate the beautiful nature God created. But Christmas is Christmas, like the color blue is the color blue.
About 30 parishioners and friends of St. John the Baptist Church in Larksville will take part in the play, which is titled A Candle in the Window and scheduled for 4 p.m. Christmas Eve, immediately before the Christmas Vigil Mass.
Their roles range from angels and shepherds to a dressmaker and cobbler who caution their children not to call the queen a Grinch-ess because they consider that an unkind remark.
Other references to classic holiday specials, besides Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas, include a gaggle of unpleasant characters known as the Meister family, who might remind you of the Burgermeister Meisterburger in Santa Claus is Comin' to Town.
There's even a mention of razzleberry pudding that harkens back to Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.
By the end of Gurka's story Queen Margaret, like the Grinch, will have a change of heart.
And, the lesson to come from this parable?
I think there's hope for everyone, Gurka said. We're a combination of light and darkness. Everyone is. But even in the most desperate situations there's always some goodness.
What: ‘A Candle in the Window'
When: 4 p.m. Monday, to be followed by Christmas Vigil Mass
Where: St. John the Baptist Church, 126 Nesbitt St., Larksville
More info: 779-9620