Over the past several years I have become more and more intent to wait through Advent. I have tried hard to wait for Christmas until Christmas. I separate the Advent music from Christmas music in my iTunes library. My family is gracious enough to indulge me and we wait until the last week before Christmas to put up our Christmas tree. I actually even try to avoid the actual Christmas account (unless I’m prepping for something). I want to wait. I want to celebrate Advent and watch and wait and prepare.
I sometimes have to explain or defend myself for this. I have to explain that I’m not some kind of Scrooge. I explain that what I’ve discovered is that when I celebrate Advent, then I can really celebrate Christmas. The longer I wait for Christmas, the richer the message of Christmas becomes, when it finally comes.
Several years ago, when Sara was teaching in Kewaskum and I was at the Seminary, I had the opportunity to sit right in the front during their children’s Christmas Eve service (on Christmas Eve). We sat in the first row not occupied by the kids. This was one of the first years that I consciously "postponed" Christmas. So that year the first time I really paid attention to the Christmas story, especially those precious words in Luke chapter 2, it came from the mouths of children. There they were, just a few feet from me, and they recited their parts—parts that God first assigned to prophets and apostles and even angels. But here God has given this message also to children, ready and eager to proclaim it—to me. And it just about took my breath away. It’s something so simple that a child could recite it. But at the same time it is something that no human can ever comprehend. In fact, the only way we can really grasp it is with the eyes of faith—as a child.
This morning our school kids rehearsed our own Christmas service parts all together for the first time. And even though our service is not on Christmas Eve (it’s the day before), I already know that it will take my breath away. I’ll do my best to wait for it, and when it finally comes, I’ll be glad that the kids are saying it. Because I don’t think I could make it through. The truth is, over the past several years I’ve found that I can hardly make it through the reading of the Christmas Eve Gospel. "Today…a Savior has been born to you." It’s as though my heart can’t quite take it all in. Really? For me? And I feel like I need to stop and breath and try to absorb it.
So the kids will say the words for us, so that the rest of us can just try to take it all in. I’m looking forward to that. Let me know in the comments what you appreciate or remember most about children’s Christmas services.