I've been to three Christmas Eve services in the past 24 hours. No, I'm not trying to get extra helpings of Jesus. Our lives have just stretched and spread and it's good. Each one brought it's moments of awe, inspiration, and sometimes laughter.
Like last night, our friends at The Inclusion Community invited us to the Davidson United Methodist Chapel for Christmas Eve-Eve. Just as the beautiful space began to glow with candle-light and lovely refrains of Silent Night filled the air ... all serenity was broken by a sudden shriek from Sarah, who had managed to burn herself with hot wax. Sarah makes sure everyone knows when something hurts, too. Awesome.
Or this afternoon, after enjoying the Christmas Eve service at Lake Forest Church, our home church for many years and where we caught up with many friends, Mary was in charge of giving homemade cinnamon ornaments to everyone on the ministry and service teams. Concerned that the sweet smelling ornaments would be mistaken for cookies, Mary was all business, saying to every single person,
"Merry Christmas - don't eat it.
Merry Christmas - don't eat it...."
There were moving moments too. Like hearing my kids sing loudly and proudly the songs we've sung together in the privacy of our home (and being tickled that they knew when Kyle screwed up the words to Away in a Manger, ha!). Or being moved to tears as I caught Pastor Mike out of the corner of my eye, over there on the front row in his jeans, with one hand raised high in praise during Joy to the World. Or when, tonight, I knelt to receive communion at midnight (or something close to it) while listening to It Came Upon A Midnight Clear being sung. Maybe it was just that I was weary from the late hour, I don't know, but I was moved as I've not been in some time as I heard this verse,
And ye, beneath life's crushing load,This year has been (and still is) made up of many slow painful steps. It was good to rest tonight - to just stay knelt at the altar - so long that Pastor Nancy offered me communion twice ;) I wasn't given a wonder or a sign, but I was challenged to remain in this place of rest - not jump ahead to the next thing on my mind now that advent is over, or rush to make decisions where uncertainty remains - but instead to just stop - be still - and hear the angels sing for a while.
whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way
with painful steps and slow,
look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
and hear the angels sing!
"Peace on the earth, good will to men,
from heaven's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay,
to hear the angels sing.