Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Imperfect Christmas

“O Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.”

Picture it. Christmas Eve service. The church is packed. Nearly every seat is taken. The service has been carefully laid out in the bulletin. Easy to follow along for those who aren’t Regulars.

And then, with the first song, clearly marked “O Come All Ye Faithful” verses 1 and 2 in the bulletin, the organist begins to play “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” We all know the tune, yet can’t find it in the hymnal fast enough and muddle through the first verse confused by the song change.

A few more Christmas passages are read, and we are supposed to follow up with “O Come All Ye Faithful” verses 3 and 4. Since we started out on “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” the congregation could not be steered from that first verse of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” then as some finally noticed what was printed in the bulletin, we finished strong with verse number four.

Then the sermon about how we are all connected to the baby in manger. During the first five minutes, someone’s car alarm went off in the parking lot. Whoever the culprit was must have noticed their error because the horn only honked 10 or 12 times. Then I began my sermon dig for my checkbook so I would be ready when offering came up, and I had no pen in my purse. Then as if on cue, all the children under five in the sanctuary simultaneously lost their wonderment over being in church and began to protest. I look across the aisle and two teenagers were drawing comics. The family in front of me gave a stick of Chapstick to their 2YO son to amuse him, only recognizing their error when he was out of arm’s length and wielding a fully extended glob of Chapstick.

But then, the cloud of chaos lifted just in time for the individual candles to be lit for the “candlelight” portion of the service. My children held theirs in such a way as not to threaten burning down the church, and my now 6YO really belted out “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World” with me. A perfect ending!

Perhaps a few people at the service were first time visitors this evening. Perhaps they didn’t even notice the things that I did. Perhaps our service having several imperfect moments was much like Jesus’ birth, where nothing seemed to go right for Mary and Joseph. But, wow, what a perfect ending!

Merry Christmas!

“So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:4-7


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