Christ is born for you! And yesterday almost 200 folk experienced this. For that to happen- the experience (not the birth), God birthed many other things for which I give thanks:
The fact I found slightly “vintage” costumes in closets that became shepherds and wisemen, Mary and Joseph. That old confirmation gowns became angels. That Burger King gives crowns and some craft store magic became angels’ wings and a star. That sheep and cow hand puppets and stuffed animals appeared.
That our new church musician wrote two songs for kids to learn.
That even though we did not learn all the verses, we learned one of each.
That there are jingle bell wrist bands for little ones who are too young to be in the telling of the story and that spontaneous ringing happens.
That the Gospel of Luke is so beautiful and that there is always a high school person willing and able to read it. That this same gospel, (together with a couple teaser verses of Matthew) is enough to allow kids to live out a story without having to learn lines. The story itself is enough.
That 17 kids came out on their first day off from school to practice for an hour and then came Christmas Eve as instructed.
That this year, there were three mamas, a grandmother and a kind soul willing to help “shepherd” the flock.
That just before we began church- those same people all bowed heads with me and prayed and gave thanks for the gift of Jesus.
That over half of the people at the “Family service” were not members of the congregation. And that of those people more than half were from the afterschool ministry.
Even better- our own volunteers had personally invited beyond our printed invitation.
That those same people added to my instructions of hospitality and convinced people it was OK to come for communion, or let me know the mom with a new baby could not come up so I could go to her.
That everyone saw the energy of jingle bells during hymns, of pausing after the nativity and last song for pictures, and the glowsticks for Silent Night as joy for the birth of God with us.
That seasoned saints had smiles to see kids- and could dream dreams. That some stayed for both worship services (imagine it!)
That one Mom came to me and shared she had not been in church since her mom died, and we cried and hugged as she told me it was her son’s enthusiasm that made her stretch but she was glad she had.
That a new family shared they had moved away and were now back and that he was once Baby Jesus in this place when he was 2 months old.
That kids helped tias and abuelas and mamas meet La Pastora.
That we almost ran out of bread.
That the ornaments on the tree were Chrismons made by young hands barely able and old hands longing and others made by the kids in the service. And that someone commented not only were they beautiful, they said- “this place is real.”
That someone saw a young couple who has been struggling and slipped the pastor an extravagant amount of money and said to give it to them anonymously. And that when they received it they were moved to tears and all I could do was say that this is what the love of Christ does when hearts are touched.
That people struggling came out of the dark into the light to hear that Christ was born for them.
That even the stodgiest skeptic exclaimed it was fantastic, and the best ever time of really being one with our neighbors.
Someone said recently that the Family Service suggests if you do not have a family, don’t come. NOT true. I know that "family" can be complicated.
Here's what we mean- It suggests God makes us family where we are always meeting distant relations who draw close with us in the mystery and the joy.
Christ is born for this!
Good news indeed!