Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Christmas Memory

The traditional nativity was enacted, with the narrator reading the beloved and familiar verses from Luke. The Angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds, who journeyed to the manger to find Joseph and Mary, cradling the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:13-14). The pantomime ended with the cast and congregation singing “Silent Night.”

It was the conclusion of the usual ward Christmas party, with one departure from tradition: instead of Primary children, the nativity story was portrayed by the fifteen and sixteen year olds. I don’t know how their Sunday School teachers persuaded them to don old white temple dresses and pose as angels, or to wear striped bathrobes as shepherds, but they did, and that night they played their parts with reverence, and a sense of awe came over all who watched.

For me, it was especially touching to see my sixteen year old son as an angel, the light shining on his straight blond hair as he stood next to his best friend, nearly a foot taller, with jeans and sneakers showing under the old white dress, and his five-o’clock shadow making an appearance too. But in that moment they were angels; they believed; and we believed.

These special young people have gone on to missions, college, graduate school, marriage, families, and mortgages. They are faithful and stalwart ward members living in many parts of the country, and they still hold that spark of reverence in their hearts that we all felt at that memorable night. And for that and many other reasons, their interpretation of the Nativity will always be one of my favorite Christmas memories.

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