Today was the Christmas program at our church.
I don't really know what I expected. We have a great church and a wonderful music minister. You can tell the thought and prayer he puts into the music every Sunday because of how everything flows. And he uses different people in the praise team each week. I like that.
Jim and I have seen some awesome Christmas programs in our married years. I LOVE going to them. It's one of my most favorite things to do during the Christmas season. In fact, I told Jim this morning that if we went to our early service...and then went to hear another church's Christmas program during the 11 o'clock time-slot...I'd be down with that.
We have also participated in some amazing Christmas programs. Our church in Little Rock always had a huge production...choir, soloists, drama, live animals...and a living Christmas tree.
I sang in the choir and loved every minute of climbing up into that huge metal frame. Even Jim got involved in it...they asked him to be a centurion or something. He had to wear a little white "dress" and Jesus sandals. After I had Joshua, I didn't sing in the Living Christmas Tree anymore. Instead, I helped behind the scenes with hospitality...feeding the choir, cast and production members before/between the performances. I LOVED that, too.
The Christmas program there was an event...not gonna lie. It took a lot of time AND money. It lasted several days. I felt like it was God-honoring in every way. Eventually, they stopped doing it. I don't remember why. We had already moved away by that point.
We've been in several different churches since that time...none quite as large, tho. And we've seen lots of different musical programs.
Nothing really prepared me for today.
There was no "set." Just choir members dressed in red and black clothing of their own choosing. Not that there's anything wrong with that. I was just trying to figure out the "theme" of the musical. They started off singing a Christmas carol that we all know, and they invited us to sing along. During the 2nd song, I noticed people turning around to look toward the back of the sanctuary. Two teen-aged boys were walking down the aisle. They were angels. No, really. They were wearing white shirts and white jeans. They were also wearing white, feathery wings reminiscent of Victoria Secret ads. One boy was wearing a black belt with his white pants. He looked uncomfortable. The other boy was the opposite of uncomfortable. He was enthusiastically doing all the arm motions as the choir sang, and seemed to be embracing his role as an angel. Black-belt angel stood there stoically, arms crossed, almost daring anyone to, as the song the choir was singing said, "come and worship, come and worship...worship Christ the newborn King."
And I'm calling them "boys," but they are 17 and 18 years old. Young men. With white angel wings.
And, side note, either the black-belt angel's cell phone went off during part of the performance or he was being filled with the Light of the Holy Spirit...because there was a small, rectangle-ish area around his back pocket that was glowing.
Not distracting at all.
After about the 3rd song, I realized they were telling the Christmas story using the Christmas carols or "hymns" that we all know and love. Along with the songs, we had drama...and sign-language (which I loved)...and a very moving personal testimony from a family in our church.
But the best part came at the end. I can't even remember now what song they were singing, but they ended up having alllll of the actors come up one-by-one or in their groups...and they also added a group of little kids who helped sing at the end of the song. So the angels, shepherds, Mary, Joseph and the plastic Baby Jesus, and the testimony family and the little kids...everyone else who had a part...all up on the stage. It was really crowded with people by the end of the song.
But anyway (that's not even the point of this whole thing)...when they were on about the 2nd verse of this song, one of the angels went rogue. He started dancing and clapping. I mean, ENTHUSIASTICALLY dancing and clapping. The only thing I can really think to compare it to was that scene in the first Sister Act when Whoopie Goldberg, as Sister Mary Clarence, directs the choir as they sing "Oh Maria." Like the last half of the song when she's got her arms waving and she does a spin.
The first clue that the rogue angel's act wasn't planned was the look on black-belt angel's face. It was priceless. Totally worth the price of admission.
Which...was NOTHING. But whatever.
It's like he saw the movement out of his peripheral vision...and then looked...and then could.not.believe.it. Logan said that he must be the "fallen" angel. And we all got tickled. We were all sitting on the same row. You know, you kind of expect kids to act up in church programs. Little kids, not teenagers! Wait. What? I must be getting rusty, because I have 3 boys! I expect the unexpected at all times!
I think that sometimes we can miss the true meaning of Christmas in the "big-ness" of our productions. It doesn't have to be that way...but sometimes it is. What I appreciated about this morning was how so many different groups in our church were included in the program...choir, musicians, drama team, sign-language team, children. And I appreciated how simple it was...not a lot of bells and whistles...because that's really how it is, the simple message of Christ:
The Babe...in the manger...in the quiet...in the dark...in the barn.
The Son...on the cross...all alone...paid the price...for you and me.
The King...defeated the grave...rose again...forever reigns...in victory.
"There is no power in hell, or any who can stand, before the power and the presence of the great I AM." (Phillips, Craig and Dean).
"...and He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6