This post by Sherry reminded me this morning about something that happened in my childhood.
My mother was always “involved” at church. She sang in the choir, cantored, taught CCD and ran children’s programs. Always, at least, since I was four and remember her doing it. If it was at church, my mom did it. I am told my father was also involved, particularly with CYO (as it was calling in those days, it was the 80’s) including a memorable bonfire where my father ended up being the only adult for a good while and prevented one teen from burning the rubber off his shoes in the fire, stopped another from jumping over the six-foot flames and had to get yet a third out of the woods where he was searching for the largest limb with the most branches to roast the most marshmallows on it. Sorry, Dad, I am laughing about that out loud right now as I type it. My parents also taught pre-baptism classes and my dad was an RCIA sponsor. For me life was either school or church with my parents’ commitment. But, I digress.
One year, along with several teens in the CYO program, my mom assembled a Christmas children’s program at the Children’s mass. Okay, now before any Scrooge’s complain about no Christmas pageant during the liturgy, I’m gonna ask you to use your charity while reading this post and if you can’t…stop reading it. Anyway, the children were invited to sit on the floor in front of the altar (not on the altar) and as teens narrated the Christmas story the children were asked to make motions mimicking three teenage girls who stood in front of them. The children were divided into three groups so they would concentrate on one of the three teens. They wore paper labels each with a symbol that corresponded with the teen they were supposed to be watching: shepherds, angels and stars. Three symbols of Christmas. The Angel of the Lord appeared to the Shepherds and a star appeared over the stable where Mary and Joseph were with their son and it guided three kings there as well.
My mom wanted me to be a shepherd, I demanded to be an angel. I had these ideas that shepherds should be boys and angels girls. I hadn’t made my mind up about the stars.
I can still see the faces of the three girls standing up in the old sanctuary of that church. I remember them wearing white robes with their labels pinned on them. I remember a young man who narrated the story. I don’t remember who the priest was at the time or where my parents were. If I think REALLY hard, I remember what the carpet felt like. I know that’s weird, but I do.
In our faith, as we grow, we vacillate from being a shepherd, angel and star. Sometimes we are being surprised by our faith and revelations. Other times we are proclaiming the Good News. And then there are times we simply radiate Christ’s love from our being. No words are needed. I’m most commonly a shepherd, but I have found myself in the Angel role more and more now that I am a mother. I don’t consciously know of a time I was a star, but I guess it’s possible it happened once or twice. When I think of a “star” I think of Sister Isaac, SU, the sister who runs our ministry for the poor at church and who is always radiant to me with God’s love.
Christmas is a time when we can be all three though. We can still be caught off guard, proclaim the Good News, and radiate God’s love if we are open to all of them. I think I found a new Advent goal in this fourth week, to find when I can be a shepherd, an angel or a star and embrace those moments for all they are worth as gifts of my faith.