It had been a rugged few days and we were bone tired.
An easy 300+ miles on the car;
four nights in a bed not our own;
days spent dealing with a weeping and worried aging mom,
packing and schlepping and packing some more.
But the last Sunday in Advent dawned crisp and cool,
our daughter's warm hospitality had soothed our frayed nerves, and three of our grandsons were going to participate in their church's annual Christmas Pageant.
We got there early, and caught a glimpse of the beautiful set created by a team of church members.
Oooh, it was going to a great morning!
eating snacks. Who knew they liked grapes?
Grandson #3 enjoyed them!
And grandson #1 got ready to play in the band - drums and keyboard.
The story unfolded as Gabriel made an appearance in a cleverly-concealed-by-shifting-clouds hole-in-the-sky,
The shepherds arrived en masse, along with a few very adorable sheep.
And the adults joined the Grace Notes children's choir for a lovely "Angels' Song."
Grandson #2 is in the middle here. I love how he is sandwiched between someone older and someone younger, all joining their voices to sing praise to God.
The star in the east appeared - and disappeared - at various points during the morning.
Colby read his part of the narrative masterfully.
And a lonely shepherd (note his non-desert footwear) stood watch outside the town of Bethlehem.
Where he was soon joined by an interesting assortment of wise men, one of them in gold tights (I kid you not), all of them arguing about whose turn it was to watch for the star and who was bringing the gold.
Finally, they all found the manger and the baby, and Joseph and Mary sang a lovely duet. What? You don't remember that from Luke 2??
And our littlest angel watched quietly from the sidelines.
Loved watching this older angel try and find a comfortable position for his gangly self. Somehow his thoughtful expression reminded me of Rodin's Thinker!
Before we knew it, the kids had sung a rousing chorus of "Go Tell It on the Mountain," inviting us all to join in at the end, and the benediction had been offered.
The remains of the day
found themselves in piles across the front of the sanctuary, ready to be returned to the church from which they had been borrowed.
and little lambs, all in a row (joined by the sparklingest pair of pink books I've ever seen!).
Only one light left gleaming in the little town, soon to be put away for next year. Sigh.
After it was all over, our 13-year-old consented to one photo. So serious! He is now taller than I am at 5'11" and an interesting and thoughtful young man.
And he looks so much like our girl (who is his mother) that it sometimes causes us both to look twice.As we filed out of the sanctuary, filled with the sweetness of the story and the wonder of it all, we noticed the doors at the end of the center aisle. We've visited this church a half dozen times and never seen these beautiful wood carvings. The one pictured above is perfect for this particular Sunday in the church year and the other one is of the Good Shepherd with his sheep. Somehow, it felt right to see this picture of the grown-up Babe of Bethlehem, welcoming the children.
For aren't we all children, even those of us grown old and weary? In fact, if we can stay in touch with that child within, we're far more likely to experience the power of the story.
If we can see ourselves there, standing with the shepherds, singing with the angels, traveling with the magi - then the story can become part of us.
For it's this story that tells us, isn't it?
Oh, that we might all have the eyes of children,
to truly see the wonder that is Christmas,
the glory that is encased in the flesh of that small babe,
the one who grew to welcome children
and to encourage us to be like them.
Merry Christmas, one and all!
This one goes over to L.L's place and Laura Boggess's Playdates with God - because really, that's what it's about: