Monday, December 24, 2007

The Manger Experience

Okay, that's overly dramatic. 

The truth is, I'm three hours away from our first Christmas Eve Service and sinking into my chair already exhausted.  And frustrated.  And thinking to myself, "How many hours till it's all over?"

This is probably the experience of everyone who works with Christmas.  On Saturday, less than half the cast of our pageant showed up.  Then, during brass choir rehearsal (told you I play tuba), we noticed that the building would not heat up.  Our Buildings and Grounds guy spent the rest of the day at church with the boiler people.  I went home with a cough and by evening's end had lost my voice.

The next day -- yesterday -- I croaked through the 8 a.m. service but had to use a microphone to say anything.  Even then, folks said I should have given up because nothing was coming out.  At the 10 a.m. service, I had my deacon do all the parts of the service he could -- he even read my sermon.  THAT was a strange experience, listening to my own sermon out of someone else's mouth.

Pageant rehearsal after church went much better, but then, walking home, I saw what looked like smoke pouring out of our sacristy roof.  With a parishioner who was visiting our house (we live next to the church), I checked it out to discover that the boiler was spewing out steam -- it filled the boiler room and the sacristy, making it look like a sauna.

Well, the boiler guys came again -- and wouldn't you know, the boiler is cracked with no hope of repair.  It'll be days before we can find a replacement.

So, this Christmas, we are celebrating the birth of Christ in long underwear and our coats.  Thankfully, it's not that cold out this week -- we hit the mid 40's today.  But we'll be cold enough for some folks, and they'll complain.

Perhaps I'll just remind them that things were none too comfortable in the manger as well.  Animals, straw, who knows what else?  It surely could not have been all that fun.  And in that part of the world, I'm guessing nights got pretty cold, regardless of the time of year.

So, we'll use the lack of heat as an opportunity to enter into the experience of the manger -- uncomfortable and yet expectant.  could be fun.

But I'll still look forward to that warm bed at the end of the night.