Sunday did pass and the family got reoriented, but they all knew church would never be ordinary again. They had experienced first hand the schemes of the devil and they knew what earth had given up. The next week passed quickly as they prepared for the Christmas pageant and their family Christmas celebration.
The highlight of the season would be Angari’s attendance at the pageant on Christmas Eve. Since John, Sarah and Jake had been to Windfallow, they were now able to see the Alari, but he would be invisible to all other humans. He was to come to the Thomas home an hour before the pageant and go with Jake who would wait for him there.
The big night arrived and the church was filling to capacity for the community’s favorite Christmas treat. People began coming around10:00, through the parking lot, transformed intoBethlehemby the youth group. Each building had a tableau of one Nativity event and the clear night with its twinkling stars lent a beauty to the scene that made Sarah catch her breath. The pageant itself always began promptly at11:00 PM.with the organist striking the hour.
At10:45, Sarah took her seat and looked toward the stage. Angari was sitting on top of the wall divider at the back. She had a hard time keeping her face straight at the sight of an angel who looked like a court jester. Angari’s thoughts came to her, “I wish you could see all the angels here with me, Sarah. The church is filled with them. They say this is their favorite time of year. Your town is filled with His Spirit tonight, Sarah. I can see how much you all love the Maker. At least for this night.”
Sarah thought back. “There are four of us who will never look at life in the same way, Angari.” As the music swelled, and the familiar hymns were sung, those who had formed the tableaus outside came in and took their places onstage. Zach was a shepherd and Travis, a Wiseman. A young couple with a tiny baby played the part of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.
Jake was sitting with Cynthia near the front. He couldn’t help thinking that this recreation of Christmas would never occur in Windfallow. They would not need a Savior in a world that had never sinned. Cynthia leaned toward him, “Why so quiet, Jake?” she whispered.
Jake shook his head and squeezed her hand. “Just thinking about life, I guess.” He looked at the stage where Mary and Joseph had just entered and placed Baby Jesus in the manger. He saw Angari, with his arm around Zach’s shoulder kneeling by the manger Jake had built himself. He was not surprised to see tears running down the Alari’s face and he knew it was all Angari could do to keep from transforming to his celestial glory.
The thoughts of the Windfallow angel went out to his human friends. “We in Windfallow have never experienced the depths of the Maker’s love. He has come to you as a helpless infant; put Himself in the hands of a violent and sinful people because He loves you.” He began to rise and a glow slowly enveloped his body. He was gone before the transformation was complete, but his words came back to them. “I must go before I reveal myself. I cannot comprehend how you could have taken Him and killed Him in the cruelest way you knew how!”
As JOY TO THE WORLD filled the Church, the Thomases heard Angari’s last cry. “I will never understand you!” The infant in the manger cried out for its mother. Tender hands, a mother’s voice, soothed the child as one more Christmas pageant came to a close.
c.2011 from The Deceiver, Donna Swanson