This Sunday morning at our 10:00 Service we had a very brief Pre-School Christmas program right in the middle of the service. The children basically read the Christmas story, in its traditional form, interspersed by songs like "Angel Band" ("there was one, there were two, there were three little angels..... 10 little angels in the band.") I saw Mary holding the baby Jesus tightly. She wouldn't let him go for anything. I preached, but the program, which took the place of the children's message, was definitely a tough act to follow.
I didn't recognize a couple of the children until I saw them with their parents, and realized that I had baptized them a couple of years ago.
I don't get to spend enough time with the children.
I know that Christmas is about the incarnation: "Christ was born for you", and all that. But the part of me that still wishes for a sentimental, family-oriented Christmas still feels a little bereft that we don't have loud noisy Christmases with lots of small children.
This year, in fact, is going to challenge my image of Christmas on many levels. It will be our first Christmas without my father-in-law this year. My dad will probably be spending this Christmas at the nursing home, although I'm sure we will visit him. It looks like, the way things are going, neither of my husband's boys will be with us on Christmas Eve or Day (long story). They will both be in Another State, it seems. My brother works the late shift on Christmas Eve this year. My sister is never with us (or we're never with her, by her perspective); they live in Another State.
So, we'll have to try harder than usual to remember the True Meaning of Christmas: that it's not about presents, or huge family gatherings, with lots of children. It's about the the God who is willing to walk with us here, somehow, despite our willful, hard-hearted ways; it's about the Baby God places in our arms, not just at Christmas, but at any time we have the opportunity to carry the Word of God and the work of justice in our small corner of the world.
Help me to remember that, as Christmas approaches.