It seemed only moments after I’d fallen into bed when the alarm went off…Still dark, of course, and only an hour in which to complete the ritual opening of stockings for five and make it up to church in Good Little Curate mode for the 8.00…Somehow, it all happened manageably, and the early Eucharist was lovely. We regularly have a congregation of about 40 at this service, and I love their focus and lack of fuss…I was acting as Deacon, so got to read John’s Prologue, and then offer a reflection on it; love this!
The swiftest of breakfasts, then back to prepare for the 10.00….fewer than normal in the congregation, as so many had been there at Midnight, but still a comfortable crowd…and we sang Christians Awake and then I preached the full text of my John sermon, which felt uncharacteristically thought-through. My heart bled for the one visiting family with small children who appeared here, though they coped manfully. Definitely not a treat for the under 10s...but still, a good worship experience, which clearly connected with those who were there. When we processed out the west door it was to find a queue already formed for the Family Celebration,- with 2 small batmen and a spider man at its head! Let me tell you, it’s pretty startling to find anyone queuing for a service at St M’s, - let alone Batman!
This service is just such fun…and provided my highlight of the day. After producing a birthday cake for Jesus and getting some children to help with blowing out the candles, we talked about other essential features of birthdays, above all presents. Strangely, though it’s Jesus’s birthday, we’re the ones who receive presents…but isn’t that just like him! Anyway, what could we possibly give him??
Helpfully, there were 2 presents wrapped and waiting under the tree…one addressed to me. Having admired the wrapping, I proposed to take this home and put it safely away somewhere…till persuaded by enthusiastic shouts that I should, in fact, open it...More help achieved this, and a rather wonderful handpainted mug (thank you, F, if you’re reading this!) emerged. Again, I suggested that putting it safely away was the best policy, but was firmly corrected from the pews. I should, it appears, USE the mug and that’s what it’s donor intended.
We turned our attention to the next parcel, a splendid gift box addressed to all of us from God. The children opened it, to reveal the baby from our crib…Should I put him safely away till next year? By now the children were beside themselves with excitement and one little girl was literally jumping up and down as she led me to the stable and showed me where he really ought to be.
It’s a long time since I saw anyone actually jumping for joy in our church!
With Baby Jesus restored to his place at the heart of the crib scene, we talked briefly about our tendency to treat him as I’d so nearly treated my special mug…to visit him and celebrate his birthday before packing him safely away for another year. We agreed that in fact “Jesus is for life, not just for Christmas” and that to remember this and live as if we meant it would be the best birthday present for him.
Then we got out the percussion, sang “Come and join the celebration” and before we knew it, that was it. The last service of Christmas day finished…around 700 people through our doors in under 24 hours…
If even some of them found what they were looking for…
The rest of the day was a happy blur of family festivities, too much food and wine and some lovely presents, including a huge pile of books. If I can work out how to use my new, and reputedly fool proof digital camera this blog may become more exciting in future,- though I wouldn’t hold your breath. Meanwhile, LoudBoy’s face when he unwrapped the bass guitar (no amp,-I’m not that stupid!) that he’d been sure he’d have to save up for himself was another highlight. Total disbelief! Three cheers for ebay,- and the way it allows parents to perform Christmas magic once in a while, even on a stipend.
Oh, I’m quite overwhelmed by the joy of living my life right now. THANK YOU.