Thursday, December 28, 2006

realism for Christmas Eve

Our Christmas Eve candlelight communion service is at 9:00pm, and since we had cleaned up from our family dinner by 8:00pm, I decided to walk to church that night. We live only 4 blocks away from the church, so it usually only takes me about 7-8 minutes to get there. The evening was chilly, but not cold, and it provided me the time to pray and reflect on the evening's liturgy without being too rushed. The walk also provided me the opportunity to step in something. I was not aware of this ripe addition to the sole of my shoe until, of course, I had gotten into the sanctuary, walked up through the chancel a few times to fix the altar for communion, traveled up and down the middle aisle to get the lighting ready, and gone into the sacristy to get my alb and stole ready. Actually, I didn't even realize I had stepped in something and tracked it all over church until a choir member spotted a big chunk of it on the tile right in front of the altar and little stains on the carpet outside the choir room. She pointed to it and said, "Oh, it looks like one of the poinsettias tipped over!" It took me one second of cleaning it up to realize it wasn't poinsettia soil.

Needless to say, I had to remove my shoes and put them outside. They really stank. And I spent a few minutes running around trying to clean up whatever brown stains I could. The sacristy smelled particularly bad. I called my wife and told her I needed another pair of shoes, and 5 minutes later my dad showed up bearing them in hand. I still had to figure out a way to explain the strange odor to the worshippers who would come. So that evening, at the start of the liturgy, I announced that my shoes were not placed outside with the hopes Saint Nick would leave gifts in them that evening but so they could dry out. After explaining what had happened (without being too graphic), I told them that I had not intentionally tried to recreate the atmosphere of the stable, but that if they did get a whiff of anything just to mark it up as a "mood thing."

As it turned out, the worship service went really well, and all the worship assistants performed their extra duties with confidence, including the girl who had never before been an acolyte. The turn-out was great, and, as far as I know, no one reported any funny smells.

Merry Christmas!

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