Last week was rough. Really rough. First there was the car trouble hat-trick I told you about last time. That only took $850 to remedy. (ouch) My Christmas present is now getting to drive my car. Then there was a duo of baby illnesses combined with a nasty cold of my own. Then the blizzard. You've heard of our MN blizzard last weekend? 20" of snow on Friday night and Saturday.
This of course was the weekend of our Christmas Program and Saturday was our one and only group dress rehearsal. I drove into church Sat morning very early. At first I was thinking, "This isn't too bad, we can still have rehearsal." Halfway there I was thinking, "Well....?" And once I got there I thought, "Can I go home now? This is insane" So we canceled rehearsal.
I did make it home fine after getting the message out to as many people as possible. I was glad I left when I did as I got stuck in the church parking lot on the way out and needed a plow to come help me out. (This was at 9:30am still)
The rest of the day was spent tending to baby goat and on the phone with my leadership teams trying to get a plan in place for the next morning. (Also a little stress, and possibly some staring out the windo and possibly swearing).
And then my work email went down....
Then I found out that our "baby Jesus" had a stomach bug....
And then I just laughed. Afterall what can you do at that point.
But in the midst of the panic a plan was formed.
And I got up early, early and headed out in the frigid snowy weather back to church on Sunday morning. The church lot was only half plowed because the plow kept getting stuck. There was hardly anyone there, and I wondered if we were going to cancel church for a moment.
And then people started coming in.
And the organist gave us his prelude time to practice with the mics in the sanctuary.
And the volunteers trickled in, and so did the kids.
We started with 20ish at the beginning of our ad hoc rehearsal.
By the time of our program we had approx 150 kids who found their way there through the ice, snow and cold. The parents crowded the sanctuary beaming at their kids in velvet dresses and little ties, with animal ears on their heads.
They videotaped and took pictures.
And the kids sang. And we helped them remember who was speaking when and they were amazing.
And wouldn't you know it....
Mary and Joseph arrived in Bethlehem...
And the baby was born...
And the angels sang...
And the shepherds worshiped...
And the kids sang in a heavenly chorus. Not perfect no, but human and beautiful and lovely.
Despite the weather's best efforts Christmas came anyway in the hands of the children.
And I felt like I had a Grinch transformation moment. Witnessing something precious my heart seemed to grow three sizes as I realized that Christmas is not in the details. It is not in the velvet dresses, or a flawless reading, or having a good dress rehearsal. It is not in the cookie reception or using a real baby or a doll as Jesus.
Christmas comes in the voices of the children. And I am reminded that the program is not about me, it is about God.
The same God who sent the blizzard that made the world a brilliant blanket of white.
The same God who sent his son to be born in a stable.
I imagine this God giggled this weekend, even as he worked to keep people safe in the snow. Afterall, we are comical in our vain attempts to control the world.
And in my first year in a new church, remembering that I am not in control may have been just the Christmas lesson that I needed.
Still, if this week could be gentler God, I'd appreciate it.