The angel who was late for everything

A little known angel called Billy finds himself given a very special task indeed but will he ever get there on time? This Christmas story for children is a slightly extended version of a Christmas play written for a Special School a few years ago. We hope you enjoy.

Heaven Sent

High up in heaven, where life is angelic and people are peaceful and rest is the work of the day, when God has a message to give to the world he gathers his angels around him.

Now, you’ve all heard of Gabriel and the message he gave to a young girl called Mary and her husband to be, and some shepherds he found in a field but this is a tale of a little known angel called Billy.  Billy was good, like you’d expect any angel to be but Billy, unfortunately, was always late for everything.  One moment, he’d be on his way carrying a special message, with a skip in his stride and a woosh in his wings, whistling away and singing happy, heavenly songs and, suddenly, he would find…well, let’s just say, other things to do!

God, as you know, had given Gabriel, his highest of angels, a very high job indeed.  He gave him the message that a new king was to be born, a king to brighten the world with his love, for the king he was sending was his own Son.

‘Take this message to Mary and Joseph and some shepherds you’ll find in a field,’ said God.   His voice was very serious and Gabriel bowed low, for being an angel he was always ready to serve.  ‘Take Billy with you,’ added God, ‘and make sure he gets there on time!’

And off they flew, with a flash of their wings, to bring good news to the people below, good news of a king, good news of God’s Son to be born in the world.

Market Days

They passed through a place where a colourful market with wonderful stalls was busy and bustling with life.  There were fresh fruits and spices, there were chocolates and cakes, and vegetables pulled from the ground.  There were saucepans and ladles and earthenware mixing bowls and every kind of crockery you could imagine.  Cobblers were cobbling and tailors were stitching and bakers were selling their freshly baked bread.  Large legs of  honey-roast ham hung from the butcher’s stall, and a rather round, rosy faced lady cooked maple syrup pancakes which melted in the mouth. 

Billy squeezed his way through the crowd until he came to the most colourful, sweet-smelling sweet stall that he had ever set his watery, sweet loving eyes on. 

‘This is like heaven!’ cried Billy, and the sweet seller smiled kindly at his heavenly words.  Billy chose the largest lollipop he had ever seen in his life, and it was sweet and delicious…and took rather a long time to eat!  And then, after a long time of confectionery delights, he remembered to look at his watch!

‘Oh no,’ gasped Billy.  ‘I’m late again!  I have to go!  Thank you for the lollipop!’ he cried to the rather satisfied sweet seller who, by now, was selling a very similar lollipop to another little boy who had slipped through the crowd and whose eyes were as bright as the cloak of gold which covered his back.

And off Billy flew, with a flash of his wings, to catch up with Gabriel.

Now Gabriel was visiting a young girl called Mary at home.  Mary had been very busy indeed, for she had been drawing water from the deepest well in the village.  She had carried the water in a large earthenware jug, and the water was clean and pure and lovely.  It was the loveliest water in the world.  Every day the villagers thanked God for the well and for the water.

Gabriel gazed into Mary’s eyes.  ‘You’ve been chosen by God,’ he said so gently, ‘to give birth to his Son who will grow up and bring life to the world.  The baby’s name will be Jesus.’   Mary was deeply disturbed by such news but Gabriel, being a very experienced angel, knew just the right things to say.

‘I’ll do whatever God wants me to do,’ said Mary, and she bowed to the angel and Gabriel bowed back for he knew that he was in the presence of someone so very special, someone who had been chosen by God.  As soon as Gabriel’s work was done, he left Mary alone, for Gabriel, as well as being very experienced was also very efficient.

‘I’m here!’ cried Billy, almost bumping into Gabriel as he left the house.  ‘I’m here at last.  I’m here to tell the news!’

‘The news?’ said Gabriel.  ‘Yet again you’re late.  Far too late.  Late by a mile.’

And Billy was sad, for a while.

‘Come on, we have other work to do,’ said Gabriel.

And off they flew, with a flash of their wings.

Carnival Fun

They passed through a place where the sound of  a circus was filling the air.  There were carnival colours and magical music and laughter and so much to do.  There were lions and llamas, tigers and zebras and wonderful creatures from every continent on earth.  There were singers and dancers and jugglers and gymnasts and acrobats bending their rather long limbs.  The smell of sweet popcorn was tickling the taste buds of everyone who passed by, and an elephant trumpeted a loud elephant noise as only elephants do!

Billy squeezed his way through the crowds until he came to the funniest, fanciest clown he had ever seen, with bright orange hair, and a bright shiny nose and a smile as wide as his face.

‘This is like heaven!’ cried Billy.

He watched as the clown made him laugh, and, oh, how he laughed!  He laughed until his belly ached…and then, after even more laughing and more belly aching, he heard the deep, echoing sound of the town clock in the distance, and Billy remembered to look at his watch!

‘Oh no!’ cried Billy.  ‘I’m late again!  I have to go! Thank you for the fun!’ he shouted to the clown who was now entertaining another little boy who had also squeezed through the crowds.  As Billy listened to the little boy’s laughter lingering high above the crowds and the creatures, off he flew, with a flash of his wings, to catch up with Gabriel.

Now Gabriel had gone to a carpenter’s house, and the carpenter’s name was Joseph.  Scattered around his workshop were wood saws and screws and hammers and nails, and the floor was full of sawdust and shavings of wood.  There were half finished tables, and chairs with two legs, and fun wooden toys wonderfully carved from olive wood and lemon wood and any other kind of wood that Joseph could lay his hands on.

It was late in the evening and Joseph was asleep on a rug on the floor but he was having the kind of sleep you have when you have something on your mind.  He tossed and turned and wriggled around and worried about all kinds of things, for his life had become quite complicated lately and he really was confused about all the recent happenings.  Gabriel leaned over, brushed Joseph’s brow with his golden wing and whispered gently in his ear.

‘Joseph, don’t worry.  Mary’s baby is from God. Take her as your wife.  Everything will be good.’

Joseph relaxed and sighed and breathed so deeply and dreamed of only lovely things for his dreams were now full of an angel’s whisper.  As soon as his work was done, Gabriel left Joseph to his beautiful dreams.

‘I’m here!’ cried Billy, as he almost bumped into Gabriel who was shaking off sawdust from his feet.  ‘I’m here at last.  I’m here to tell the news!’

‘The news?’ said Gabriel.  ‘Yet again you’re late.  Far too late.  Late by a mile.

And Billy was sad, for a while.

‘Come on, come quickly, we have other work to do,’ said Gabriel.

And off they flew, with a flash of their wings.

Bear cuddles

They passed through a place with shops that lined long streets.  The shop windows were as large as houses, and the displays inside were weird and wonderful and brilliantly lit.  There were magical mannequins dressed in fine clothes, and hampers of food with items that Billy had never seen before and had certainly never tasted.

Billy squeezed his way through the crowds until he came to the window of what seemed to be the biggest toy shop in the world.  He slipped inside the shop, where Billy discovered the furriest, fluffiest teddy bear he had ever seen in his life!

‘This is like heaven!’ cried Billy, and the bear’s ears twitched warmly, for the words were lovely to hear.

The teddy bear was so cuddly and warm that Billy forgot about his special work and then, after a long time of cuddly delights, he remembered to look at his watch!

‘Oh no!’ cried Billy.  I’m late again. I have to go!  Thanks for the fun!’  And the bear gave him a big bear wave before he turned to give cuddles and warmth to another little boy who was looking rather wide eyed, and whose fine cloak seemed to shimmer with golden light.

Billy took one last glance at the bear and his new friend and off he flew with a flash of his wings!

As Billy flew onwards and upwards so fast, checking his watch for the time, he could hear the sound of angels’ voices and he could see such a brilliant light in the sky that brightened the night!  For Gabriel and a host of other angels were singing aloud to some shepherds they found in a field about the birth of a new king.

‘The king’s name is Jesus,’ sang Gabriel, as he filled the field with light.  ‘He will bring peace on earth.’

The shepherds, excited to hear such a thing, rushed off to see everything the angels had told them.

‘I’m here!’ cried Billy.  ‘I’m here at last.  I’m here to tell the news!’

‘The news?’ said Gabriel.  ‘Yet again you’re late.  Far too late.  Late by a mile!  You really do have to keep an eye on the time, Billy.  You seem to be late for everything!

A fireside king

Now Billy was sad, and he sat beside the shepherds’ fire, warming his hands and face, hoping to find comfort in the heat of the flames.  His day had been such fun and he had seen so many wonderful things but he wondered how he could ever be a proper angel if he couldn’t get anywhere on time.

And then, as if from nowhere, along came a small boy who was looking rather hot faced and flustered.  He looked like a little king, for he had a small crown on his head and wore very beautiful clothes, embroidered with gems and strands of golden thread woven in far off lands.

‘Excuse me,’ said the little boy. ‘I seem to have lost my way.  I could see you in the distance through the darkness and I thought you looked a very helpful chap indeed.’

Billy thought he recognised the boy from somewhere and he shook his head and he shook his wings, which is what angels do when they are trying to remember something.

‘I was travelling along with three others to see a new born king,’ said the boy, ‘and, well, I seem to have lost my way.  I’m always late for everything, you see.’

Again, Billy shook his wings which caused a shimmer of light to glow.  The light was even brighter than the shepherds’ fire which, by now, was beginning to die out.

‘Everything was going fine,’ said the little boy, ‘until we passed through a market place and I stopped to taste the sweetest lollipop I have ever seen.  And then we passed through a circus and I stopped to laugh at a clown.  And then, as if that wasn’t enough, I found the furriest, fluffiest teddy bear I’ve ever seen and he was so warm and cuddly that I just couldn’t resist playing for an hour…or two.’

Billy thought back to all the things he had seen throughout his long, lovely day and then he jumped up from his place at the fire.  His wings fluttered with excitement!  Golden showers shimmered through the darkness of the night.

‘I knew it,’ cried Billy.  ‘I knew I’d seen you before.  At last I can be a proper angel and give good news to the people below.’

‘An angel?’ asked the boy.  ‘I’ve seen some wonderful things today.  In fact, I’ve travelled many miles since leaving home and I’ve had such fun but I don’t think I have ever seen an angel before!’

‘Well, I don’t think I’m a very good angel,’ replied Billy, ‘You see, by the time I get to where I’ve been sent it’s always too late and some other angel will have already given the news.’

‘Is that what angels do?’ asked the little boy.

‘Well, there are different kinds of angels,’ said Billy.  ‘Some angels are like an awesome army and they fight great battles against evil.  They are the bravest of all angels.’  Billy looked very serious as he thought of Michael and all the angels of heaven who had marched to war with only goodness in their hearts.  ‘Some angels are heavenly helpers who bring comfort and warmth to those in need,’ continued Billy.  ‘They are full of kindness and their hearts and so very loving and they bring healing in their hands.  And other angels are messengers.  They fly from God with great news.  That’s the kind of angel I am.  That’s the kind of angel I’m supposed to be,’ said Billy lowering his head.

‘Well, you look very grand and glorious,’ said the little boy. ‘You look as if you have great news indeed.’

‘I do have news,’ said Billy.  ‘I have news of a new King who has been born into the world.’

‘Do you think it may be the king I am looking for?’ asked the little boy.  ‘Do you have any news of him? Or is it all too late…again?’

‘No, of course it’s not too late!’ cried Billy.  ‘It’s not too late at all!  The new king born this night is in the town below.  They say he is beautiful.  Hurry, you’re not far away at all!  Just follow that star!’  Billy pointed to the sky and it was the clearest night and the brightest star that anyone had ever seen.

‘This is like heaven!’ cried the little boy.  ‘Thank you for the message!  Thank you for being the best angel I’ve ever seen!’

‘Oh, one more thing,’ said Billy.  His eyes were filled with great sadness.  ‘There is still much in the world to fear and I really don’t want you to come to any harm.  When you’ve seen the new king, please do be careful on your journey home.’

‘I will.  I promise,’ said the little boy.  ‘And thank you once again.  You’ve been so kind.  I think you may be the best angel I’ve ever met.’

And off ran the fourth wise man, who was really a boy and who is not very well known at all.

Billy glanced up at the star in the sky and there above him, gazing down, was Gabriel who had a very proud look on his face.  In fact, his face was glowing, which is what angels do when they are very pleased indeed.  Billy’s face glowed too and up he flew, flying high and higher.  The sky burst open with light and it seemed to Billy as though heaven and earth was one.  There was heavenly song, the kind that only angels sing when there is something wonderful to celebrate, for tonight the angels had delivered the most important message ever.  And Billy’s timing had been just right!

Happy Christmas, everyone!

Copyright Dean Atkins

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