‘Super Sunday’ morning finally arrived. As usual, the fantastic Christmas show, to say the least, was stunning! The orchestra played beautifully! Myrtle Smoot coaxed every possible ounce of beautiful sound from her musicians.
“The Fantastic Fennelli Family,” a juggling act, amazed the audience with their “Christmas Special.” They tossed shepherd and Magi dolls around and landed them by the manger in exactly the right places. Angels flew from their expertly trained hands, as if they were really flying! They juggled wicked King Herod and the Roman soldiers right out the door. It brought the crowd to its feet! As usual, the animals did their jobs, well. This year Myrtle trained the cows to moo “Silent Night.”
Becky Burnbaum had an extraordinary performance. Her solo was outstanding, including the part about saving the baby seals. There wasn’t a dry eye in the church when she placed a stuffed seal among the animals surrounding the manger. The applause at the end of the program was deafening! The only thing that could possibly have made this year’s program better would have been an appearance by Gabriel himself!
* * * *
William had been among the heavenly host who announced the Good News of the first Christmas to a bunch of terrified shepherds. The only reason he attended this year’s party was Sylvia. He watched her go through the motions in the back row of the junior choir. He noticed she wasn’t impressed with the program. In spite of Myrtle Smoot, the jugglers, Becky Burnbaum and the animals, compared to a real angel celebration, this earthly flop was a lot like the manure piling up in the parking lot.
* * * *
In church that evening, a handful of people quietly worshiped the Savior in a sanctuary dimly lit by candles and white Christmas tree lights. At home, others basked in glow of another successful Christmas Pageant.
* * * *
William was at church, as usual, watching over Sylvia – a changed Sylvia. No one could really notice the change…. but it was there. William knew it. He was getting ready for a celestial Christmas celebration…. at just the right moment!
* * * *
Pastor Bill spoke. The candles glowed. The congregation sang carols. Sylvia wiped her sweaty hands on the seat cushion. She nervously waited to sing. Her song meant something, at least to her … now …
The pastor finally turned to her and invited her to sing. “At last!” she thought. Sylvia slid out of the pew, walked up to the front, careful not to trip over the microphone cord. She stared at her feet as the first words softly, waveringly slipped out. “What shall I give him, poor as I am…?”
William was getting excited. It was almost time.
“If I were a shepherd, I would give a lamb. If I were a wise man …” The people were actually listening. Sylvia stumbled a bit. “I would do my part …” As she sang, she bravely looked out over the crowd. “…What I can, I give him…” Sylvia looked up and saw Grampa Peterson sitting in the back of church, wiping something from his eye. “… give him my heart …”
* * * *
William knew this was it. The only sound heard in the church was a soft “Amen” from the old man sitting in the back. But William and a heavenly host danced, sang, and shouted “AMEN!” It was the beginning of an eternal celebration of new birth!
[Previously published in “Christian Home and School” – December 1994″]