Somewhere in heaven, a few months before the first Christmas, the angels gathered. Or as we say these days, switched on their tablets, clicked on a link and zoomed one another.
‘Right,’ said Michael, ‘is everyone here? Can you all see me?’
‘Musgrove hasn’t shown up yet. He’s probably having problems logging in,’ said Gabriel, ‘he’s always the last.’
‘I’m here,’ said Angela, and she waved a hello, along with a host of other shining faces.
‘I’m here too,’ said Arty, ‘but I should mention, I’m a bit worried about my laptop battery running out. Can we get a move on?’
Michael nodded. ‘Absolutely. Gabriel, how did you get on with Mary? Gabriel! Gabriel! We can see you but we can’t hear you, switch your mic back on. Switch your… that’s it!’
‘…looked a bit shell-shocked but I made sure I kept myself socially distanced,’ said Gabriel.
‘Yes but what did she say?’ said Michael.
‘I told her not to be afraid.’
‘I told her she’d been chosen by God.’
‘She said…’ Silence.
Michael tapped his tablet screen.
‘Gabriel, you’ve stopped moving.’
‘He’s frozen,’ said Arty.
‘What? Oh no! Now he’s gone completely. Gabriel where’ve you gone?’
‘It’s his wi-fi,’ said Angela, ‘it did that before. It drops out.’
Michael sighed. ‘We can’t have this happening when we’re trying to amaze the shepherds!’
‘Can I just say my battery’s flashing at me,’ said Arty.
‘I’m back!’ said Gabriel, reappearing suddenly. ‘Now, where was I?’
‘You were about to tell us what Mary said.’
‘Oh right, yes, this was a great moment, she said…’ Silence.
‘Oh not again! He’s gone again! He keeps cutting out.’
‘I’d just like to say,’ said Arty, ‘my battery’s gone bright red…’
‘Okay, let’s leave Gabriel for a moment and talk about the shepherds, they’ll be frightened. I mean even on zoom a bunch of angels is a shock for them.’
‘We could sing them a happy song,’ said Angela
‘No! No singing! We just need to praise God. We don’t sing.’
‘Oh!’ said Angela. ‘Couldn’t we do one of those online choirs, they’re so good!’
‘Can I deliver the message about the baby as a rap?’ said Musgrove, who’d now joined the group. ‘I’ve written it out neatly and everything.’
‘I’m ba…’ said Gabriel. Then silence.
‘He’s gone again,’ said Angela. ‘Will the shepherds have wi-fi reception on that hillside?’
‘I’d just like to say my battery’s completely out of pow…’
‘Gabriel! Thank goodness. Now tell us about Mary, quick!’
‘What about her?’
‘Did she say yes or no?’
‘Oh no! He’s frozen again.’
‘Ha ha! Only kidding! I was just pretending! Gotcha!’ said Gabriel.
‘We’ll get you in a minute if you try that again. Now what did she say when you told her God had chosen her for the most important mission in history?’
‘She said she’d have a think about it.’
‘No – of course not – she said yes!’
‘Does she realise the implications? The cost? The difficulties?’
‘Of course. I explained it all. I wasn’t on zoom so I didn’t keep cutting out. I told her that she was going to have a baby and he would be the son of the most high God and he would save his people and reign forever. I told her about her cousin too. Those two are both very courageous ladies.’
‘Whew. Right. That’s great,’ said Michael. ‘So let’s get practising for these shepherds then.’
‘But that’s nine months away,’ said Musgrove.
‘Not up here. A thousand years is like a day you know. We’re due to perform tomorrow!’