It was back in 2002, at the Junior Church Nativity, in The Cotteridge Church in Birmingham, that my younger daughter, Rachel (then 5), and I, both played the same part. I am sure she didn’t realise it, and probably most of the congregation also missed the coincidence. But we were both angels. She was, of course, the more conventional kind of angel, attractive, dressed in white, with wings. I was Arfur the angel, the tramp angel, trying to make sense of the memo in my pocket, crumpled, and sounding to me more like the story of Noah, with its cobwebs, animals and smelly stable.
But that made an important point. Christmas isn’t what we expect. There was a star, and angels, according to what we read in Luke and Matthew – but God didn’t arrive on earth amidst military might, a conquering hero, heralded by a marvellous fanfare. Rather he slipped into the world in a smelly stable, at first only noticed by a few shepherds.
John sums it up in that tremendous phrase in John 1:14 – and the Word became flesh. This is the theme of the Gospel. This is the climax of this tremendous opening statement.
And angels come in all shapes and size – ready to be welcomed by us.