The previous post, with its lusty singing of carols, was in contrast to Goffstown's Christmas on Main Street program last night. There was an abundance of Santa and Frosty crafts. I note with displeasure there is increasing use of the "naughty or nice" theme, emphasis on the naughty, with gleeful innuendo, to be bragged about by the young. The Girl Scouts had not only crafts, but baked goods and hot beverages, and sang four "seasonal" songs at the tree lighting. Cute. Not objectionable, but not anything to do with Christmas, either. They shivered - there was a solid breeze on top of the freezing temperature - and squinted at their shared song sheets.
The program shifted unevenly to the live nativity down the street. This was less well-attended, and the secular songs on loudspeaker created competition for the first two carols. But those Congregationalists persevered, launching middle-school girls already in angel robes up to the microphone to read passages of scripture, and jump-starting the a capella carols with force, despite the small numbers. Soon there were almost no spectators left - my quick computation suggested that it was likely the families of the participants plus us.
The production values were uh, meager, and the energy level kept draining down as dutiful but nervous children took their turns. But discouragement at the trappings gives way in my mind to admiration for the valiance of it all. This is New Hampshire, the least-churched state in the Union. Budgets are low, and the cold makes costuming even more makeshift than usual. Fiery preachers of the Second Advent talk blithely about the remnant church. I'll show you a remnant church right here, shivering valiantly in retired choir robes, acting out the story of God coming to earth, before an audience of no one.
I imagine an actual angel appearing, exploding upon the scene to lend a hand, terrifying the santas and singers of "Jingle Bells." There would be complaints to the Main Street Committee, as if it had been their inadequate precautions that caused it, for allowing this trauma to be visited upon Goffstown's children. Cody cries every time we drive past that church now. Which I think would be an improvement, actually.
It's tempting to think how one might create the impression naturally. The front of the church, tall and white, is rather a blank canvas for the imagination in designing angel visitations that are something nearer the real thing than tinseled Caitlins. Given the right equipment...But it's no good. In another context, creating an invasion of shining warriors would be the right effect for some church, somewhere. Here, it's real angels or nothing.
Maybe next year. Come, Lord Jesus.