Sorry things are a little out of order this week. I was busy with family yesterday, but before more come charging through the door for "jammie day" a Larson tradition, I wanted to spend a little time with you.
Christmas Eve we hustled to make 5:00 o'clock church. I sing in the choir, so that meant I had to be there by 4:30 p.m., hoping my dinner was safe and ready for our return. Once the service began, the usual happened; kids squirmed, papers rustled and our voices became one as we sang familiar carols. By the time the gospel was read, I was once more back in 5th grade, about to perform the Christmas pageant. I was the angel who came to the shepherds. I can still feel where the costume scratched my neck, or how the sway of the wings tried to unbalance me as the spotlight beamed down on me. My lines, rehearsed a thousand times were ready to be proclaimed. It didn't matter that this was a public school, everyone enjoyed watching the Christmas story unfold on the stage. No one was upset we were practicing our faith in the crowded gym. The community had come out as they did each year to see the kids Christmas program. Santa might arrive later, but only after the nativity story was acted out.
My hands were cold from nerves, my voice had all but disappeared. I whispered my lines, knowing each word was to be spoken in kindness and jubilation. I remember looking up the unusual word in the dictionary weeks before. I thought it meant happy, but felt maybe it meant more. I discovered other words, rejoicing, celebrating, words that sounded very joyous.
Stage fright was a new experience although I didn't know it had a name. My throat had constricted so tight I could barely swallow, but I had no spit to worry about anyway my nerves taking over every thought. But then, I moved to stand on the small box, my hand stretched out over the boys spread across the stage floor, looking on with dread at me. And I smiled, they did look a little silly sprawled out like that. "Fear not ... for behold I bring you good news of great joy." I hadn't planned on looking at anyone, especially not the audience. But the gym had grown so quiet it surprised me. Had the people gone home? Had the little kids fallen asleep? Had my wings dropped to the floor?
It seemed a thousand eyes rested on me, waiting for me to deliver the good news. And with a strong voice I proclaimed, " For to you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." I no more than finished telling them about the baby in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger when a great rustling swept across the stage as twenty some other angels fluttered and tip-toed around me.
The realness of our actions took hold. It was the first time I truly understood the good news mankind had been given. I felt goosebumpy. And as the pastor of our church finished reading the passage, the now familiar story settled lightly on my heart; I didn't care if supper burned or if things weren't perfect for Christmas. The real gift had come long ago in a stinky run-down barn. The gift was called love, is still called love and it's for everyone. All I have to do is accept it. That's all you have to do too. It's the best present to have and to share any time of the year!
Til next time ~