At our annual children’s Christmas pageant, I was sitting in a front pew among the ranks of little girls dressed in their brand new angel costumes as they waited patiently waited for their cue to go on stage and sing. (Did I say “patiently”?) It must have seemed a small eternity to these littlest ones, for first they fidgeted, whispered, and wiggled, standing, sitting, standing again, writing on offering envelopes, dropping hymnals with loud plunks upon the wooden floors, plucking each other’s wings, trying on squished halos frontwards and backwards, taking them off and on and off and on again, until finally, as a last resort, they were rolling around on the floor underneath the pews–fallen angels one and all! When at last the cue came for them to perform, the children rose to sing their sweet songs to a sea of beaming faces, adoring parents, cameras flashing, and ardent applause–our beloved children, broken wings and busted halos notwithstanding!
I certainly was sitting in the right place than night: the Fallen Angel Department! For as much as I have striven all my life to be good and patient, to perform well, to be a perfect angel, I too have broken wings and a busted halo, my imperfections as conspicuous as a bad case of the measles. And had it not been for the amazing grace of God whose unfailing love has “redeemed me and kept me all my life,” I would not have a snowball’s chance in you-know-where of rising up, beginning again, and becoming the person I long to be.
If you have ever felt the weight of broken wings and a busted halo, you may take heart, as I certainly have, in the profoundly comforting words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who said: “I believe that even our errors and mistakes are not in vain, and that it is not harder for God to deal with them than with our presumed good deeds.” For God is the One who can take all the broken and busted pieces of our lives and fashion from them something new and beautiful.
May all who have ever spent time in the Fallen Angel Department be assured of who we are, and whose we are—the beloved children of God, broken wings and busted halos notwithstanding!