Lovely clear afternoon, so I thought I'd finally sort out the Crib Service...only 2 weeks to go, after all, and next week is pretty manic. The trouble is, I'm feeling distinctly pathetic, with the sort of sore throat that has turned me from a high soprano to a rather uninspired tenor, and a generous proportion of cotton wool where my brain used to be.
And I'm anxious,- anxious verging on terrified.
I'm anxious because, in a fit of enthusiasm, I suggested that it would be fun if children wanted to come to the service on Christmas Eve attired in tea- towels, tinsel crowns or whichever bit of the Nativity story they fancied. We do, after all, have a very beautiful baby in our midst, whose mother is very happy to wrap her up in a suitable shawl to play Jesus. It seemed like a good idea, truly it did, but what was just a gentle suggestion has become a huge selling-point, so that wherever I go I meet children full of excitement at the costume their poor long- suffering mother has put together for them. If only half of the children who've accosted me actually appear the church will be heaving,- and this service is usually pretty busy anyway.
Just yesterday at Little Fishes, a grandmother, who brings her granddaughter to us every week (determined that she will have some Christian input despite her mother's apathy) told me with pride that not only M's mother, but her best girlfriends and their partners, plus assorted inlaws and outlaws would be there.
And then it hit me.
My smallness set against the huge responsibility of not getting in the way of their encounter with God...indeed, of doing something to facilitate it, in a church packed with excited pre- Christmas children.
My head knows that it won't be anything that I can do or say that will give them that moment of numinous encounter...but where there should be a peaceful reliance on God revealing himself to them in whatever way he chooses, there is instead a whirlwind of churning "What if's" that threatens to engulf me and has already paralysed my creative processes.
I'd have a good scream, if only my throat weren't so sore.
PS I would love to hear any tried and tested instant voice restorers...I'm celebrating at 10.00, leading Evensong and supposed to be going carol singing with the youth group all onSunday ...and actually this villainous croak isn't terribly reassuring when making pastoral calls either!