‘Tis the day after Christmas. And all through the house there is gratitude.
Three worship services are still thrumming in my body. Christmas Eve is an amazing time to be church.
For the early (4:00) service chaos is an expected guest. Kids are amped, parents are excited, grandparents shine with wonder, and all that energy is gathered within the walls of a sanctuary that has for decades held the prayers, celebrations and heart aches of a people. The dispersed come home to celebrate life.
We have a tradition of inviting one of “our own” church sons to play classical guitar for the early service. He grew up in the church, a musical son of musical and heart-huge parents. A month earlier we had been together in the sanctuary to give thanks for the life of his mom. It was a sweet and achy thing for him to share his musical gift without the physical shine of his proud mom. And, for all that, she was present.
Richfield UMC has an amazing depth of musical heart. We shared the witness of strings and voices and organ and children song and heard the story of how it was Jesus was born and the angels wove grace into our hearts.
You could see it in the candle-lit faces of those gathered. Star shine was taken in and shared.
Christmas day worship was a romp. We declare Sunday Christmas Days to be “slipper Sundays” so folk came with outlandish feet regalia. The whole church took a deep gulping breath of nostalgia when one of our children came up for the children’s lesson in his sleeper jammies and slippers. We sang, we heard the heart speakings of two of our members, we laughed and we celebrated the birthday of the Prince of Peace. And leading worship in my slippers was delicious!
There are those who feel sorry for clergy at Christmas time. Don’t. True, the needful things that must be done are amplified when preparing a church is added to preparing for a home for Christmas.
But the gifts I received will long linger. Seeing faces lit by candles while singing “Silent Night” is holy communion. Watching people share love and light is salvation. Being a part of the song and heart weave that is Christmas Eve and Christmas Day worship is amazing grace.
And, I was blessed with the candle-kissed sight of my own beloveds; children and husband and former husband too. Seeing those faces in a shared pew on a night meant for knowing that with God all things are possible. I was in the presence of emmanuel, God with us.
So it was. So it is.