The weather forecast was for rain. We certainly hoped it was wrong because that evening we were going to present our Christmas Musical Celebration. This was an outdoor affair set up in the grounds of the local School. The first effort, some five years earlier, was attended by about 100 people, and now we were averaging about 1000. Out of small things!
Ray Tinker, the bloke with the idea for the event, through his heart and soul into its organization. There were seats to be hired, sound gear, decoration, lighting.... and so it went on. The first time we held it, one of the fellers in charge of the advertising called it "The Christmas Musical Spectacular". Over advertising, we thought. Still, as the years went by it did become quite spectacular.
The programme consisted of the usual carols by candlelight with special guest artists, theatrical piece, rock band for the rockers, and of course, Santa with lollies for all the kids. It really did wind up into something special. The organization required to put on the event and the effort on the day, was enough to give a person apoplexy.
There were always the usual foul-ups. Fused lighting was a popular event. Powered up with lights and sound, the fuses would inevitably die. There was also the guest artist who didn't quite turn out as expected. On one occasion we hired an ex theatre organist. He arrived in his full gear and once he got on the organ we couldn't get him off. He just kept playing and playing. When asked to finish, he kept playing. Finally, Ray Tinker took the matter in hand by pulling the power plug. Mr. organist was not happy.
Anyway, on this night rain was forecast. As the musical proceeded, great thunder clouds began to bank up toward the south. Shafts of lightning filled the sky over the school building and out to sea. A tremendous light show with full sound effects. Those of little faith set off for home, but most sat, huddled around their flickering candles. The storm seemed to swirl past us, moving out to sea, then back again, hitting the next town north of us.
Now, some said it was a miracle, but then carolers in the next town would not have agreed. "God protected us, but drenched the mob next door." An interesting point of view! There was a miracle that night, but it had nothing to do with the vagaries of a thunderstorm. In the swirl of history, at a time least expected, in a place unknown, in a barn, in a feeding trough, God entered our world. The miracle was hidden in the songs we sang, of a child, the saviour of the world. Immanuel, God with us.