We had our church Christmas service this morning because we’ll be meeting in house church for the next two Sundays, with half the church away for the holidays.
We meet in a hotel so there’s none of the solemn stained-glass windows or the midnight service on Christmas Eve with the ceremonial lighting of the candles as we sing Silent Night (a tradition which some might miss).
But it suits me, this lack of tradition, which allowed my husband to enter our wedding ceremony to loud salsa music and to have my entrance set to the music of Braveheart. And it suits me to watch a nativity scene acted out with a heavy dose of humor – humor that doesn’t lack respect of course – but humor nonetheless.
I guess . . . Christmas is not so important to me as a religious holiday because I try to live every day in the right way. (No, no I’m not trying to be pious. You all know me and how far from perfect I am).
Christmas is a holiday celebration with food and joy and yes – presents and Santa for the kids. I mean, let’s live this thing up! Religion is daily kindness and humility (oh Lord, help me to be this way). Or at least, that’s the goal.
I learned something through this morning’s humorous nativity scene reenactment. Although typically mentioned as the “three” wise men, there is no mention of an actual number in the Bible. But this group of wise men did bring three gifts, and they were gold, frankincense and myrrh.
The gold is for Jesus as King.
The incense is for Jesus as High Priest.
And the myrrh is for Jesus Crucified.
Myrrh is a balm to prepare bodies for burial. I think symbolism is cool and I love to learn stuff like that.
I couldn’t resist including a link to youtube with the children singing one of the songs they learned. It’s terrible lighting and you can’t see a thing, but the song is pretty, I think.
I sat in on one of their practice sessions (there were maybe 3 or 4 weeks’ worth, lasting about 45 minutes each, and that alone is quite a feat for children). The rehearsals were taught by a professional singer who led them through such a series of voice exercises before even starting on the songs, it was like listening to a vocal lava lamp. But all to such pleasing effect! Here are the words and the translation below that.
Entendez-vous des pas dans la nuit ?
1 Entendez-vous des pas dans la nuit,
Au milieu du village endormi ?
Marie est fatiguée, Joseph est angoissé,
Car l’auberge avait fermé sa porte !
Mais à côté l’étable est ouverte …
Marie, ô, ne craint pas! Ton enfant qui va
C’est Jésus, Sauveur et Roi des rois.
2 Dans les champs pendant la même nuit,
Près d’un feu, des bergers accroupis
Gardent leur grand troupeau de moutons et
Les vois-tu dans l’ombre et le silence ?
Mais soudain la campagne s’éclaire :
Allez à Bethlehem ! dit un ange du ciel,
Car Jésus, le Sauveur, vous est né !
3 En orient dans une sombre nuit,
Une étrange étoile a resplendi.
Quelques mages l’ont vue, par cet astre ils
Qu’en Judée un roi venait de naître.
Lentement cette étoile est partie …
Alors, le cœur battant, les mages l’ont suivie
Jusqu’au pays du petit enfant.
Did you hear footsteps in the night?
Did you hear footsteps in the night
In the midst of a sleepy village?
Mary is tired, Joseph is worried
for the inn has closed its doors
But nearby there is an open stable
Mary, don’t fear, your child will be born
It’s Jesus, Savior and King of kings.
In the fields that same night
Near a fire the shepherds knelt
Keeping their large herd of sheep and lambs
Can you see them in the shadows and in silence?
But suddenly the countryside lit up
Go to Bethlehem! said an angel of the heavens
For Jesus the Savior has been born unto you.
From the East in the midst of a dark night
A strange star burned bright
Wise men saw this,
and by this star they knew
that in Judea a King was just born
Slowly the star moved
and so with beating hearts they followed
to the country of the small child.
(Not a great translation – prettier in French by far!)