Binge watching Christmas worship videos was a first for me — on my phone in the parked car, on the sunny couch and while whirling on the elliptical.
I realize I may’ve become a little too attached to some particulars. I wanted to hear specific words such as “lineage,” “inn” and “swaddling.” Nothing against references to family, guest rooms and strips of cloth, but my nostalgia was starting to get a little twitchy.
Some of the brief intro videos a few days prior seemed quite powerful. Phrases like “set intentions” to feel, and the limitations of a “false dichotomy” were intriguing. The closeups of hands in a stained glass depiction of the nativity scene where a shepherd was resting his hand on a lamb and Mary gently held her baby were endearing. The contrast of a pastor’s serene composure while dressing for 2019 services and literally gearing up for 2020’s pandemic along with severe winter weather outdoor worship (all with background music) was riveting.
As for actual services, a self-professed farm boy pastor said he liked envisioning the stable with chickens. “Presence matters.” He’ll never take hugging his kids for granted again. In the meantime, God’s presence feels closer.
Another rural pastor held up a mitten her grandmother had made her and told a story. Talking about a physical manger familiar to the congregation she suggested Jesus is grown now, the manger is empty — a good place to set down your troubles. She also explained the political connotations at the time of the word “savior.”
I heard children with New Zealand accents, and saw Christmas lights reflected in a soloist’s face shield. A puppet told a joke: What do you call a candle in a suit of armor? A knight light.
Readings included, “... this thing that has been made known to us.”
Prayers included, “for rapid distribution of vaccines.”
We were reminded that love is greater than fear. Also, save a present to open for when the wise magi arrive — it’s a few more days until the date of the historical, and perhaps our own personal, epiphanies.
We were told part of why Christ came down to Earth was to be with us to “dance and play.” And perhaps help with decorations. Hopefully, He thinks the blingy sweater buttoned onto the back of the dining room chair and the frequently used hand lotion now setting in a little gift bag are nice touches.
One of the churches described “Chrismons,” Christ monograms. I remember trying to cut some of those out of white styrofoam in the church, the squeak of the paring knife from the local grain elevator through the stiff porous substance that wanted to break.
This Christmas Eve we saw a flock of white snow geese flying under the waning moon in a powder blue sky in late afternoon — a fine Godly symbol of animated ever adjusting symmetry winging onward toward the new year.