Last night at 6:00 p.m. families entrusted their little ones to special ladies at church who dressed them hastily in a variety of costumes. As I read the story of the first Christmas these cuties were sent or led down the aisle to the altar area, where they variously sat on the step, climbed under the altar rail and ran back down the aisle. I'm not sure anyone heard I word I said.
Afterwards, since wisdom has never been my long suit, I sat down in the middle of the horde and proceeded to try to deliver a children's sermon. I had three presents to open up, and instantly had nine volunteers. The last present got opened by a very eager little girl before I needed its contents. When I finally sent them back down the aisle to the same ladies, who stripped off their costumes and delivered them to their parents I wasn't sure they had heard a word I said.
Afterwards people crowded into the parish hall and talked about how beautiful the mass had been.
Older people gathered in the cold later last evening and a high and solemn mass began at 10:30 p.m. Beautiful music that I could not produce punctuated the hour and a half we were together. The scent of incense hung in the air. Candles lent a reverent glow to the whole church as we left, singing "Silent Night, Holy Night."
Afterwards people gathered in the Narthex and talked about how beautiful the mass had been.
Once again I realized that I'm not the center of this thing called Church, I'm at best a catalyst, someone who seems to cause things to start happening, but in the end has little control over how things end. Humbling, this priestcraft is, but I wouldn't have it any other way.