Marcus did not forget his part, like he was sure he would. He sounds great, looks handsome with his new haircut. He’s the only one who got a candle that didn’t work for Quempas Corners. (hangs head). Aggie’s voice is heard over all the others, with the exception of Jacob. Aggie narrates for Mary, and she speaks with such confidence I asked her later if she was even nervous at all. Eldon and Peter sing a cute song, “Just like me,” and did great. One kid in Eldon’s class has a cold so his froggy voice through the whole song makes us laugh! I hold newborn baby Flannery during the beginning of the service and ponder the quick passing of time. She gets fussy and Quinn takes her to dance in the back of the church. And my first baby, Lorraine, wears her gold dress and looks like such a young woman that I can see clearly she’s outgrowing elementary school, as much as I hate to admit it.
The older four planned to stay up and go with me to the 11pm service. Eldon and Marcus drive me crazy “reading” by the fire (wrestling.) I send them to bed. Peter snuggles with me and we read an entire Magic Treehouse book. I said, “Do you want me to take you up to bed now?” He said, “No, first I want to fall asleep on your lap.” So I set an alarm and fell asleep with him. Josh brought me some coffee. It sat next to me on the table while we slept!
When the alarm goes off at 10:40, only Aggie is awake already. She woke Lorraine. Seth got up too, all dressed up in his nice suit and blue shirt and tie. But then he came up to me and says, “Mom do I have to go? My stomach hurts and I’m so tired and I’ll go if you want me to but..” I gently sent him to bed. So, just the girls and me, so sleepy. It was a long service, but so snuggly and wonderful, magical with the quempas corners that daddy sang in too, and the candles and the packed pews and the gospel shining brightly for all to see, brighter even than the giant Christmas tree.
And both girls put their heads on my shoulders, and our eyes close both to pray and to rest. It is good, Oh Lord, to be here. My voice is to froggy to sing, but that means I can listen better to the girls. They add their extra fancy wonky version to O Come All Ye Faithful and I think my heart will burst. On the way home, Aggie gets slap-happy and tells goofy jokes while Lorraine and I stagger off to bed.
In the pew on Christmas sunday morning, Peter sleeps soundly. The girls get volun-told to acolyte. Marcus embellishes the stick-figure nativity scene on his bulletin. He gives Jesus a baseball cap, there in the manger, and a mobile with stars and moon to look at. And Joseph needs a beard, of course, and sunglasses. He adds a sheep with sunglasses, too, and angels and shepherds and wise men, and in the background, three crosses, and a crack in the earth under Jesus’ cross: His whole life in a picture, when He entered in and broke death.
And Daddy preaches. And the Word of God which started as a whispered promise the day the word was broken gets louder as daddy speaks- and the kids like when he gets loud. Just as the promise of God itself got louder through Abraham, louder again through David, hollered by John the Baptist, and then shouted from Son of God on the cross saying “It is finished.” “Father forgive them.” And death is destroyed, and He is making all things new. His light shines in the darkness, and we see the break of dawn and the sky changes color and even the shadows are getting smaller.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Where shepherds lately knelt
and kept the angel's word,
I come in half belief,
a pilgrim strangely stirred,
but there is room and welcome there for me,
but there is room and welcome there for me.
In that unlikely place
I find him as they said:
sweet newborn babe, how frail!
and in a manger bed,
a still, small voice to cry one day for me,
a still, small voice to cry one day for me.