People, look east. The time is near
of the crowning of the year.
Make your house fair as you are able,
Trim the hearth and set the table.
People, look east and sing today:
Love, the guest, is on the way.
Last night was our Hanging of the Greens service at FPC. It is the night our sanctuary is transformed, before out eyes, from Ordinary Time to Advent. It was a night that for me, reminded me of what this season is all about.
Planning the Hanging of the Greens is no small feat. By the time we got to Wednesday night, I had gotten wrapped up in the “Martha Stewart Christmas” mentality. No matter what I told the readers and hangers about not worrying if it wasn’t perfect, I wasn’t buying it myself. What if the garland falls like last year? What if the little kids break out into a fight over who gets to put baby Jesus in the Nativity scene? What if the Youth Group didn’t find enough people to hang the pew boughs? It seems that I did not pay enough attention to the Shrek Christmas special that was on TV tuesday night (or to what my colleagues kept telling me)– the one where he learns the lesson that Christmas is more about family and less about perfection.
Our service began, and once it began, once I let it go, and just let God be in charge, Ionce I remembered that we were a big family getting our house ready for Jesus, it was all OK. It seems we have a new tradition here – -the garland is never going to stay over the door – no matter how hangs it or how we manage it. For the second year in a row there was applause when it was finally up – however temporary that may be. The poinsettias will always be bigger than the children who carry them up the aisle. When the children come forward to place the figures in the nativity, they will stay to arrange them until it is “just so” or the gorgeous notes of the choir end, whichever comes first.
This service is about us, us as a community preparing together. Yes, we could have the talented flower committee simply come in and do it all and walk in the first Sunday of Advent and ohhh and ahhh. But there is something about looking around and knowing that we as a church all contributed to preparing our spiritual home for the arrivial of Christ — and that we heard the reminder together that he came to us, an imperfect people. To a stable. A stable that was not neat and prettty, but probably dirty and messy. So if the garland falls or a reader stumbles, it is OK. Our family is like many families — with people on all ends of the spectrum and from all walks of life. Together we welcome the Christ-child who came for us. In all of our imperfections.
Here are some pictures taken this morning:
The nativity. We use animals from a varietyof sources to ensure that each child gets to place one. Can you find the giraffe?
…or the extra baby Jesus? I think that’s my favorite part of today. The surprise of finding two in the manger.
As I continue to make preparations in this season of Advent, my prayer for myself is that I rememebr the lessons of last night — the fun comes in the imperfections, in the being together, and in the community. And if the garland falls or the tree is crooked, well Jesus will still be born and we will still celebrate.