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Wonder in Waynesville

by davesandel on January 1st, 2020

Wonder in Waynesville

New Year’s Day, Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw this, they proclaimed the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed. And Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. ­

– From Luke 2

A week after Christmas, memories fly like snowflakes in my mind.

This is a story of wonder.

Once upon a time, living in a small central Illinois town not on the way to anywhere, we found ourselves included in a tightly knit fellowship of friends. We didn’t grow up here, and so we didn’t expect this. But in this town our friend who had us for dinner also drove our kids to school the next day. If Margaret didn’t make it home in time after school, the kids walked two blocks down the street to hang out at the village grocery run by the bus driver’s husband.

Sometimes Chris or Marc did something they shouldn’t. Within twenty minutes someone always seemed to call, and then we could correct them.

For awhile before moving we began driving here to be part of a trying-to-be-resurrected church. Our boys were in school, but Andrea, our last child, our first girl, had just been born, so great for Margaret, who at last could replace matchbox cars and sports teams with dolls, pink dresses and little bits of lace.

Andi was born in April, we moved in August, and now it was coming on to Christmas. We walked around town in the snow singing carols and drank hot chocolate afterward. Our church had a live nativity with real animals and real shepherds (like me). Marc and Chris practiced their songs for the Christmas Eve service.

Jesus and his mother would be the focal point for everything, for all the words and music celebrating Jesus’ sweet nativity. But several mothers with younger babies declined to be Mary and Jesus on our church stage. Margaret remembers:

Now at the last minute WE were invited, and I was so excited! Like Mary and Joseph at Bethlehem’s last inn, we felt adopted and accepted into the family. And we had an important job to do.

I got there early, while my daughter was sleeping. I wanted to take off her full, pink snowsuit before the show started, but right away I got hustled backstage to don my Mary robe. The men tied on their beards. All of us were in full, period costume. All but Andi.

Andi was a total pink, sleeping marshmallow. Pink gloves on her hands, hood wrapped around her head and tied close below her chin – no, she would not get cold! The director put her in the straw. She slept on.

Very sedately the rest of us made our pilgrimage onstage for our representation of that secret, silent night. The congregation knew the baby this year would have to be an inferior, plastic child, but really they couldn’t see inside the creche. As his mother Mary, with no beard to hide behind, I did some Holy Spirit method acting to represent the Madonna, wearing my most beatific, sacred mother smile. I looked down with pride at my “new baby boy Jesus.”

Moments into the program I heard audible gasps in the audience. A tiny arm and wrist, completely clothed in pink swaddling fabric, slowly moved skyward. One arm, one hand. Mother Mary, thrown just for a moment, took her gently and guided the pink arm back into the crib.

A moment later Andrea, still sleeping but now having taken over the show, lifted her lovely pink arm toward the sky again. My mind flashed with the scripture, “Even the rocks will cry out!” Should I push her arm down again?

Mothers, even Mary, do what they have to do.

Andrea slept through the rest of the Christmas Eve service. She did her job, she gave God the glory on this night of nights. She blessed our adopted community, as she was herself adopted and blessed by them.

 Andi’s home again this week after Christmas and on this New Year’s Day. She’s visiting us all with her husband and three year old son Miles, and of course, her five-month old son Jasper.

Jasper gets bundled up to go outside, just like she was so many years ago.

Can you see him sleeping, quiet in the crib onstage, lifting that hand of his up toward the sky, once and then again? Do the rocks cry out again this Christmas? Do we parents and grandparents and friends lose our jaded edge for just a moment?

So that now, like then, we too can call out singing, right to Jesus, “Welcome! We love you!”

Babies take some time to grow, don’t they, Lord? You took time too. There’s never any hurry. We have a few stories from your life, and we have our own experiences. We can walk beside you while you learn to walk, and then ask you to walk beside US, while we learn how to ourselves be born, and live, and die, and live again.

https://www.davesandel.net/category/advent-and-christmas-devotions-2019/

http://www.christiancounselingservice.com/archive.php?year=2019

 

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