Avril at Romsey

… and Lancefield and Riddells Creek and Mount Macedon

Christmas Day

Christmas Day begins early; no surprise there. I take more Cold-and-Flu drugs, figuring that whoever is advising me not to take them for more that 48 hours has never been a minister over Christmas. Eat breakfast quickly. Shower quickly. Dress in many black layers because it’s a very cold day. Thank God for the cold and the signs of rain. A day of low bushfire risk.

Have a quick look at ‘reflection’. It’s not a sermon; I think that Christmas Day, like Good Friday, is one of those days when I need say very little. My first version did include lots of interesting information about Luke’s version of the Nativity and what he’s saying and how it differs from Matthew’s version – but in the end I decided that all that stuff belonged in a Bible Study, not a Christmas morning reflection. So what I’m left with is a bit about why I think Jesus is important. Reread, and realise that in all my cutting and pasting I’ve lost a paragraph about Jesus’ “Nazareth Manifesto” (Luke 4:16-21). Rewrite it from memory, then check it, realising that this must be fairly important to me when I find I’ve got it right.

Get to the church; collect sandwich boards; drive around to put them up. They are very heavy and they clank in the back of my car, but the Romsey Uniting Church is off the main road, the service is at 10 rather than 9, and I don’t want anyone to miss out on a Christmas Day service because they can’t find the church or don’t know what time the service is.

Get back to the church. Still more than an hour before the service starts. Light all the candles except the Christmas candle. Admire the effect of all four Advent candles being lit. Check that the nativity scene is complete. Remove the (three) wise men and hide them in the vestry. They don’t arrive until Epiphany and, anyway, today is Luke’s version of the Nativity, not Matthew’s.

Sit on the front steps of the church and send text messages to family and friends. Offer them the blessing with which I’ll finish the service. Their reaction seems to depend on whether or not they like the idea of being surrounded by the echoes of angel songs. My brother replies almost straight away: Merry Xmas. Have a good service or two. No getting hammered on church wine. Seriously, have fun with the birth of our Lord Santa Christ. Love my brother just this side of idolatry, but sometimes wonder whether we’re related.

My offsider arrives with the laptop, ready to set up for the PowerPoint presentation. Ignore her mutterings, which include: “Now, why isn’t that working?”; “That doesn’t look right.”; “What have I done wrong here?” Have scanned the pictures of The Greatest Gift, by Susan Summers, illustrated by Jackie Morris, to accompany my reading of the story, and if the PowerPoint doesn’t work I’m in trouble. Eventually everything is set up and works. More thanks to God.

Put on alb and UCA scarf. Look forward to being ordained and able to wear different coloured stoles. Getting very tired of being invariably blue, no matter what the liturgical season.

People start to arrive. Meet them at the front of the church. Much kissing and goodwill. Mother and grandmother arrive. Very excited – it will be the first time grandmother has seen me take a service since I started here. Help grandmother up the steps. She’s got suddenly frail over the past few months and leans on a stick on one side and me on the other. Feel sick at how frail she is. She wangled her way to my first graduation back in 1999 on the basis that she might not be round much longer, and I’ve been teasing her about that ever since. But now I can see that she really might not be around much longer, and I’m not ready for her to go.

Service goes well. Service, in fact, goes wonderfully. I can take little credit for that; it’s Christmas. I’d have to work extremely hard to create a bad Christmas service. Much enjoyment of The Greatest Gift. Much hearty singing, even from me, although I carefully move away from the microphone to do it. Over-flowing offering plates for the Christmas Bowl Appeal. Presence of gorgeous baby whose aunt I married in November. (Presence of gorgeous baby’s mother and grandmother, too.) Gorgeous baby holds up shaking-hands-line at the end of the service by grabbing onto my fingers and refusing to let go.  Don’t protest. Mother and  grandmother say it was the best Christmas Service they’ve ever attended. Suggest that they might be ever so slightly biased.

Go home with mother and grandmother. Show grandmother house. Drink tea. Mother has brought over the stocking Santa filled for me at her house. Santa has gone minimalist since I grew up. My stocking has only the absolute, there would be no Christmas without them, basics: chocolate coins; fifty cent piece; mandarin. Open gifts I’ve been accumulating over the past few weeks. Lovely book from Heidi. Many boxes of chocolate from congregation members. Journal from mother. Journal from congregation member. Break into enormous hamper from father and step-mother. Start on the shortbread.

Mother and grandmother return to mother’s house. Lie on the couch with products of hamper to watch Quantum Leap on DVD. Watch a couple of episodes and fall asleep. Drag myself to bedroom, put on pyjamas and go to bed properly.

Woken at five by mother returning with plate of food. She puts it in the fridge; I roll over and go back to sleep.

Wake at seven in time to watch news. Heat up plate of food: turkey and ham and roast vegetables. Mother also dropped off new Vicar of Dibley DVD. Watch it and decide that I will break my vow never to get married if Richard Armitage proposes. Go back to bed. Go back to sleep.

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December 27, 2007 - Posted by | Life, etc., Ministry

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