This year, the parishioners at Holy Comforter collaborated on an Advent devotional, with submissions from various parishioners for each day of Advent. “Angel on the Loose” is my contribution for 2009.
Let them praise his name in the dance: let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp.
Our annual Christmas Pageant at St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church was not exactly “cutting edge.” Every year was essentially the same lineup, same script, and same songs. I am not complaining about this; the pageant was a beloved tradition.
I was so excited when Tenley was old enough to participate without me as a castmate (the mom of the youngest angel was always designated “Mama Angel,” with the additional task of keeping the shepherds and their sheep from getting all riled up by the baby angels). She was three or four years old. I think this picture was taken that year:
The way the pageant was structured, the narrator would read a bit of the Christmas story, and a bit of the tableau would unfold. For instance, “We Three Kings” heralded the entry of the three kings. The angels were the first to station themselves at the stable.
When the first congregational hymn started, Tenley started dancing around to the hymn. I don’t mean kind of unconsciously tapping her little feet. I mean sweeping leaps across the stable, joyful gesturing, and unrestrained smiles. We were rolling with laughter in our seats but trying to look worshipful simultaneously.
I was really unable to do anything to stop her — and in my heart of hearts I didn’t want to.
I thought that first song was a fluke, but sure enough she “felt the dancing spirit” through every single song the congregation sang that night.
Now Tenley is 13, and there’s not a lot of unrestrained joy that I am privy to right now.
But I’ll never forget the “unscripted” moments of that long-ago Christmas Pageant.
This year, if the excitement of preparing to celebrate bubbles up inside you, consider a few leaps across your living room or exuberant arm waves. Your family may think you’re nuts but God will “get it” and that’s what matters most this season.