Thursday, December 25, 2008

O Come All Ye Faithful, Joyful and Triumphant...

I think I heard this Christmas hymn at least a dozen times today! Each time, I sang along, either at church, or on the radio with a very happy heart! I love Christmas! Not because of the gift giving, and spoiling of my children, and sheer chaos of the commercialized part of the holiday. That part, I hate! It's so stressful! What I love about Christmas is the feeling of my faith bursting through my veins, reminding me with every breath, "God so loved the world, that he sent his one and only son..." What a beautiful thing! I love Christmas carols, but I often have difficulty singing them in their entirety, as I usually choke on the words.

What a wonderful evening we had last night. We made it to the church early, as I'd planned, and began getting things in "order" for the children's CHRISTmas service. Children started coming in on time, at 6:30, those wearing costumes got into those, and others bounced off the walls in our fellowship hall as we anxiously awaited our time to begin. The service went very well. We had one mishap, that to some could have been considered a "disaster", but I figure, when you're dealing with kids, something is going to go differently than originally planned (not wrong) and we just have to adapt. At one point in the service, the 4th -6th graders moved over to the left side of the front of the church, and stood behind the other children. They were there to sing their two songs, and were staying through that particular reading in the service. When it came time to read, one of the "shepherds" whispered, "we don't have it". Uh oh, here it comes. What? What don't you have? "Our papers" he said. Not one of the 4th through 6th graders brought their programs over, with their printed reading in them. We had a few moments of "panic", and some offered to run over to get them. I didn't want the chaos in the middle of the program.. they were getting ready to sing "What Child is This, and Away in a Manger. It's not a time to be preempted by chaos! I said.. "Share!" So, they all adapted beautifully, and the back row, leaned over the middle row, where the 1st through 3rd graders stood, and they made it through their parts. I looked over to my friend Jennifer, who was helping on that side, and we just kind of laughed. What could we do,anyway? Just have to recover, and move on! The kids did an awesome job, and I hope I was able to project my satisfaction to them, when we returned to the fellowship hall afterwards. I was particularly impressed with one of the shepherds. I was hesitant to assign him a part, as I'm never really sure when he'll be "in town"; he lives in Orlando I think, on a regular basis with his father. This is a young man whom I was his Sunday School teacher when he was 3 or 4 years old, and now, here he is in 5th or 6th grade, and reciting a part in the CHRISTmas program. His reading was fantastic. I had no idea he was such a good reader. When the program was over, we passed out "goodie bags", donated by one of our church families, sugared them all up, and hurried home to get our kids into bed. Hanna ate two apples on the way home, and I was a little worried we'd have some repercussions from that, but nothing came about! The apples, did, however, make her already loose tooth, a bit more loose, and made it hurt last night. I cautioned our babysitter that should Hanna come out after we left, and her tooth happened to come out, there is a small ceramic 'box', on the hutch for teeth to await the tooth fairies arrival. Hanna did come out of her room for awhile, and talked the sitters ear off! We have yet to use this box.. perhaps tomorrow. The tooth is so wiggly, it's disgusting! Back and forth, side to side... eww! I've been encouraging her to pull it, and she tries, but it just won't let go! Stubborn tooth, just like it's owner!

We got home at 9:00pm, and our babysitter arrived at 9:25, right on time. John and I hurried out, and made it back to church shortly before 10:00pm. Robert had asked me to be there early, since he and I were playing some preservice music. He and I played Silent Night pre-service, and he sang O Holy Night, accompanied by an elder gentleman, who amazingly plays WITHOUT MUSIC! It was a beautiful evening. I love the 10:30 service. We also played What Child is This, during the offering. It's a candle light service, with 9 lessons and carols. I usually sing my heart out, until I'm hoarse (and I was last night), and end up in tears at some point, thankful for the gift that we have been given by our God. When I arrived at church, there was only the older gentleman, Kurt, standing in front of the parking lot, waiting on Robert. I asked if he was waiting to get in, and he replied that he was. John went on, looking for something to eat, as neither of us had eaten dinner, and he was hungry. He tried stopping at Starbucks for their "holiday cappuccino", but unfortunately for him, they were closed when we got there. He settled for a coffee from the Chevron by the church. When I went into the church, Kurt went to the piano, and I plugged in the Christmas tree. I took some pictures of the tree, and the front of our church, hoping to capture the beauty of the dimly lit altar.

I sat in church this morning, and reflected on all the gifts that I have been given, and especially all the wonderful things in my life that revolve around my church. (Warning, this part is very emotional!) I sat, admiring the altar, in all its CHRISTmas glory. Remembering, my baptism in the fellowship hall, when I was 12 years old, before the chapel was here, and how my family was visiting on summer vacation; we lived in Maryland at the time. I remembered sitting in the church alone, except for one elder, the evening after a special young boy in our church had tragically died, and how my faith grew by leaps and bounds that evening, through all my tears and grief, staring for over an hour, at the stained glass picture of Jesus. His last Christmas on earth, Timmy gave me a pin of the North Star, and I wear it proudly every year through Advent in his memory. I remembered sitting in the late evening service, with my fiance a year later, bursting with joy, for finding a man whom I loved so much, and loved me as well. Shortly after that Christmas, we were married at this altar. A year and a half later, we baptized our first child, Hanna, at this altar, and again a year and a half later, on Christmas morning, we baptized our son, Daniel, at this altar. This beautiful altar! My life has grown so much at this altar, and I was so happy to be sitting there, reflecting on all the gifts in my life, received at this altar, from my Savior, Jesus Christ! Merry Christmas, and Happy Birthday Jesus!


Kim Lahaie Day said...

Thank you, Suzanne, for remembering Timmy. I can't write more at this moment, you got me!



Kim Lahaie Day said...

Okay, I'm back! I love seeing the photos of Good Shepherd, it looks so warm and inviting. I mean warm in the aesthetic sense of the word. Glad your CHRISTmas has been so blessed, all the memories swarming. Wish I could have heard Robbie sing "O Holy Night", though. Maybe next year we'll stay in Orange Park for the holidays.....