We took the kids to see the Holiday Train tonight. It's all lit up for Christmas, chugging across the country, stopping in towns and putting on a Christmas show to raise money and collect donations for local food banks. It was awesome - freezing, and way too late for our early-to-bed babes, but awesome.
The bliss-moment that made both Patrick and I grin came at the end of the first song. The crowd had been singing along with the band, kids dancing and glow-sticks whirling - and as the drums boomed the song to a close, the whole crowd burst into cheers and applause, and both Sam and Vava joined in - shrieking with delight and clapping their mittened hands as hard as they could. Their eyes shone like stars. I don't think I could feel my toes at that point, but it didn't matter. That great gorgeous feeling - a big communal joy - flowed through the crowd in a riot of glory.
I think the night when the angels came and announced Jesus' birth to the shepherds must have been kind of like that.
I miss it, quiet in my room, reading sedate words on the page. An angel appears and announces Jesus' birth ... it just reads a lot more sedately than it must have been. But seeing the kids glowing with wonder gave me a bit of a glimpse -
I think it was a lot more like that shivery joy, that big wave of bliss. An angel appears, and a spotlight shafts through the velvet night. His voice must have boomed like it was carried on amplifiers as he pronounced that This Is THE NIGHT - The Saviour Is Born This Day! And the astonishing words hovered, briefly, in the stillness ... then the accompanying host stepped out of the wings and began to sing. And I'm not picturing it as a cluster of two or three demure angels either, because the Scriptures say it was "a multitude of the heavenly host." A multitude! I'm seeing a crowd, happiness mounting as they look from one to another, singing with everything they had - harmonies and hands clapping (and maybe a little beatboxing?) and joy resonating from heart to heart.
There's something in me that wants to worship God alone, in the quiet and stillness of my own heart. But there's something in me, too, that wants to worship Him in a huge and glad crowd, lost in that swell of community and gladness. It's what makes me love flash mobs and concerts and the whole congregation standing to sing in church.
Gloria in excelsis deo, from a thousand lips.
I hope you find yourself in a happy crowd this Christmas, friends!