Sometimes I'm reminded of why I call St John's Episcopal Church home. Tonight was one of those nights. We had our Christmas mass, and it's always high Episcopal mass at St. John's. But this was the family service. Our reader was pretty slow. Some folks take their moment in the sun seriously; this woman, God bless her, did. Or maybe she forgot to check out in the pews at the hundreds (literally) of kids sitting out there. (I use "sitting" loosely. Wriggling, talking, shifting, jiggling is more like it, my kids included. Actually, for once, my kids were the quiet ones of the bunch.)
But dang, the atmosphere was just fun and energetic. You couldn't help but get caught up (or annoyed, I guess, if you're without kiddos).
Anyway, after two readings Father Ted, who did the homily for the kiddos, made the executive decision to forgo the Reading of the Gospel, the reading with the most pomp and circumstance, for gathering the kids up at the front off schedule. They filled the altar area and the aisles halfway back. After some confusion, everyone settled in, and he told the gospel in kid language, but not dumbed down (basically the birth story of Christ, how Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethelehem for the census. We have census in this country next year, btw) and how they had no place to lay Him but a feeding trough. (True or not, if you've had a baby, the story strikes deep into your heart, like all good stories do. I've long held that the Christmas story is mostly for mothers and children.) He told another delightful, albeit long (though the kids loved it cuz it had props) story about a little pine tree who ruined its perfect Christmas tree shape doing good for the world. Then each kid got a candy cane and came back to sit down. My kids loved the whole thing, even the one old enough to get a letter from Hogwarts.
Then communion, which runs long but felt poignant when told by our English-accented Bishop. Each priest has a "style" to the Eucharist and hers is wonderful. I took communion from her personally so I guess I'm specially blessed. I guess I can use that.
And during communion we sing hymns. And they were pretty weak until Silent Night, which took the sanctuary in its grip and held us in the quiet of what Christmas is. Not to say kids weren't making noise. But there was this underlying peace... like the moment you think: There. I just touched God.
And then a rousing JOY TO THE WORLD and we were out of there, only it didn't seem like an hour and a half but maybe 30 minutes and we went to Conors and had a great Christmas Eve supper (Irish brekkies for the hubbins and me, buggers for the kids). We exchanged a bunch of pix and texts with out of town family, just enough to remind us to miss and love them, which we needed, especially this year. (Family in Kansas are worried over Santa in the blizzard of '09, but my daughter is convinced Rudolph's nose will guide the sleigh. Thank God for Second Graders!) Now kids are in bed and we're waiting for them to sleep so Santa can come and, in the wise words of THE CHRISTMAS STORY, "All was right with the world."
Happy Christmas to everyone, and I wish all sorts of Peace, Joy, and Love upon you in the New Year.