As we ease ourselves into the new calendar year it’s understandable that we take a look back over the left shoulder, since we can’t twist the neck 360 degrees like the wise old owl. Our Christmas Eve services were very well attended, starting with the Pageant at 4 p.m. We always invite the little ones to sit on the floor in the front of the sanctuary so that they can see Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds and Angels, the Three Kings and the other characters.
This year I decided to introduce the Pageant with a quiz, to familiarize the children with the basics of the pageant story. I began by asking, “What was the name of the child in the story.” A four-year old raised his hand and said, “Chris.” I said that he was close, that he had a partial answer. With a little prodding we established that the baby was Jesus.
Then I asked, “What was Jesus’ mother’s name?” An enthusiastic three year old raised her hand way up high and said, “Mommy!” Right, of course!
I asked, “Who told the shepherds not to be afraid?” A four-year old boy responded, “Gloria!”
You can’t script that!
At the 9 o’clock service, with record attendance somewhere around 450 or so, and at the well-attended 11 p.m. service, Debra and I shared the pulpit. We decided long ago that we’ll each offer a reflection of our choosing, rather than coordinate a theme.
Debra chose to talk about her appreciation for the historical Jesus, and I talked about the concept of the Christ. While her talk focused on the teachings of Jesus – how to live a good life in this down-to-earth world, mine was about the origin of our English word Christ, from the Hebrew Messiah – the anointed one. Balancing
Debra’s comments about Jesus’ emphasis on living in the world, I suggested that our Christ nature helps us to live with ourselves, as well as with others – how to invite the ‘better angels of our nature’ into our lives.
Ed’s Christmas Eve music was nourishment for the soul! As he and I were closing up shop at about 12:45 he said, “I’ll see you in the morning.” I responded, “It is the morning!”
We returned at 10 a.m. to get ready for the 11 a.m. service, surprised to have 62 in attendance. We sang some carols and I did my annual reading of Staves One and Five of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. He called the chapters ‘staves,’ a musical term for the various parts, to go along with the title of his story.
The theme for yesterday’s New Year’s Day service was beginnings – how we move through the seasons and cycles of life, beginning again, and again.
After a reminder of the creation stories in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, I told the Inuit creation story about Raven, who was both bird and man. The first man kicked his way out of a pea pod – it took four days, a long labor, and how Raven made a mate for him so that they could populate the world.
I wrote a couple of poems focusing on beginnings – they’re on back of this letter. Have a Happy New Year.