I had a flashback the other day about being at pre-school as Christmas approached. We were, as usual, putting on a nativity play, and as the parts were being selected, I was hoping to be Mary. The angels got cast first (Billy Bob’s Mum was one of them) and I was selected, but I turned it down. I was hanging out for the big one. Once the angels were all selected, they went on to the animals and “extras”. They must have chosen Mary and Joseph next, and I was overlooked. I have no idea how disappointed I was about this, but I can tell you, I was even more disappointed to find out that the only parts left were the 3 wise men. So I got stuck with being a man. I remember this was a little upsetting, but Mum made me feel better somehow and I ended up having a blast. I can’t remember what gift I was carrying for Baby Jesus, but I like to think I held the gold…
It’s intriguing isn’t it – feeling uncomfortable about playing a wise man, but not about being an angel.
The only angel mentioned by name is Gabriel (who spoke both to Mary and to Zechariah – the father of John the Baptist). Gabriel is not the most macho name, but that angel is described as a ‘he’.
When the group of angels appears, they are described (depending on your bible) as an ‘army’, which is vague but doesn’t exactly suggest lady angels (this was waaay prior to female soldiers).
At the end of the day it comes down to finding roles for all those pre-school girls – the boys have already been allocated to shepherds etc.
Anyway, i find it interesting how our views on a bible event are shaped partially by the bible, but mostly by pre-school logistics and the greeting card industry.