OK - - so I actually have my Christmas Eve stuff ready for tomorrow. In fact, I even had it ready YESTERDAY. I know none of my sisters in the 11th Hour Preacher Party will believe me, but all I have left to do is to minorly tweak up my meditation for the 2nd service on Christmas Eve. I guess I need to put together the Lessons and Carols for the 27th, too, but that's going to be VERY easy. I'll do that here shortly.
First I've got to write up my story from Christmas Eve last year. I don't remember ever blogging it after it happened, and if I did it was long enough ago that I'm pretty sure it's been forgotten. Here it goes.
We had just one Christmas Eve service at our church last year and no nursery. It was Lessons & Carols with a short homily at the end of the L & C. It also helps to know that my husband plays in the bell choir, and I didn't have a lay reader. Selfishly, I just like to read the birth narrative myself. So, the kids, 18 months and 3 1/2 at the time, are usually fantastic in church. I don't sit up on the chancel during worship, but our family sits together in the front row. I just pop up and down when it's my turn. There were one or two times that there was some overlap of time when both my husband and I needed to be "up" during that service, him for the bells and me for a reading.
The kids hardly seemed to notice. They were engrossed in whatever toys they had in their worship bags. At one point Karoline (the elder of the two) wandered across the aisle to sit with a friend and her family, and that was fine, too. Right at the time I needed to go up for my last reading and homily, and my wonderful husband was finishing his last bell piece William decided it was time to wander to the back of the sanctuary. I alerted my husband to this with my eyes and mouthed words as we passed in the chancel, and he headed down the aisle to chase the monster while the princess remained with her friends...momentarily.
I think because she noticed she had no direct parental supervision she decided to follow me up to the pulpit (an open-legged podium really). She just stood there with me for a little bit while I started the reading; I placed my hand on her head to let her know I knew she was there, and hopefully to convey my need for her to just stay still next to me. Apparently that was not conveyed, because then she dropped to the floor and started to crawl into her favorite hiding spot - - my robe. Lifting the hem she popped under there and started poking around. Discreetly (I hope) and not too roughly, I gave her a little kick to try to get her to stop moving. There were no screams, so I considered it a success. All the while I kept reading and began preaching.
Next she crawled out of the robe and under the podium portion of the pulpit so it looked like she was sitting in this little box, looking out at the congregation. I could only imagine (or really I couldn't) what she was doing, but since there were folks rolling in the aisles of laughter or running out in terror, I still just kept going.
Where was your husband you may be asking? I sure as heck was! Well, he thought he had smelled something less than sweet coming from our son's pants so he had taken him to the nursery to investigate. I was later told someone else offered to do that so that he didn't have to leave LadyPrincess unattended, but he turned that offer down. Anything to skip one of my sermons, I think.
When she got bored of SHOOTING THE FRONT ROW WITH HER CANDLE-TURNED-GUN-OF-CHRISTMAS-JOY (I found out later what she was doing down there), LadyPrincess crawled out of the pulpit and too the chancel-stange front and center. There she did was every 3 1/2 year old girl loves to do - - twirled her red velvet dress around and around and around. And Mommy preached on.
About this time my husband came back from his adventure of changing a COMPLETELY DRY DIAPER and saw what was happening up front. He threw the boy with the Director of Christian Education and bolted down the aisle to the chancel. By now there were more than a few snickers from the pews and LadyPrincess looked up to see what was so funny (no clue that it was her). She saw Daddy coming running toward her and began to scream, "NO DADDY NO NO NO!" as if he was going to beat her right there in public or something (Disclaimer: He has never beat her or hit her or hurt her in anyway in public OR private).
In one quick movement he swept her up under his arm and tore out of the sanctuary. Now we were all laughing. I just looked out at the congregation and said, "Even Jesus turned 3 eventually."