"The presence of the Messiah is a mystery; it cannot be said to everybody, and it cannot be [known] by everybody, but only by those like Simeon who are driven by the Spirit. There is something surprising, unexpected about the appearance of salvation, something which contradicts pious opinions and intellectual demands. The mystery of salvation is the mystery of a child." --Paul Tillich
Call to Worship: "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear"
I have basically no memories of this hymn from growing up, but I quite like it.
Chlidren's Time: Tallynia(sp?) sang a Snow Carol her grandfather had written.
Special Music was "Gaudete!" which Will had found in some Finnish carol book (he said he's Finnish, and Tallessyn said, "Who knew Draco Malfoy was Finnish?" -- this makes sense if you've seen his bleached shellacked hair).
Gospel Lesson: Luke 2:22-40
Reflection: Tiffany talked about Christmas at her parents house and how it's a production that puts Martha Stewart to shame. 10 Christmas trees, each in its own decoratively themed room. (Mom, I thought of Mary Merritt.) Her five-year-old niece CeeCee, however, kept going around and rearranging the nativity scenes -- which were in the traditional arrangement of baby Jesus flanked by Mary and Joseph with Magi behind them and shepherds behind them and then sheep and then goats -- so that all the figures were in a circle with an "equal access" (Tiffany's phrase) view of the baby Jesus. I'm not sold on the idea that children have an intuitive/instinctive understanding of Christmas as Christ-centered that they then get trained out of, but I do like the idea of a more Christ-focused Christmas. (Remember when I was an obnoxious high school/college student who insisted that when I grew up I would just have a pine tree and white lights and there would be no gift exchanges except maybe charitable giving?). Tiffany talked about how we have scripts for these picture perfect family events and how Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of the year (cf. Hallmark Channel Specials, etc.) but it's often a time of great stress and depression and and that the "peace" is often the peace of the status quo, but the Christ story is all about disruption. The two birds in the Scripture? Apparently it was traditional to sacrifice a lamb, but Mary and Joseph were too poor. And then of course imagine if some crazy old man walked off the street into a christening and picked up the baby and started prophesying. And of course he says things like "a light for revelation to the Gentiles" (not "Israel," note) and that this child will be the cause of the falling of many and that Mary's soul will be pierced by a sword.
[Edited to add the blogpost of her sermon; also on 7Villages.]
Call to Prayer: "O Little Town of Bethlehem"
Our Prayers, Pastoral Prayer, and Jesus' Prayer
Tallessyn talked about the last-minute messy pageant they had on Christmas Eve, how she had put the baby Jesus in Tallynia's shawl (Tallynia was playing Mary) and had told her to take the doll out from the bottom but she forgot and was trying to tug him out by the neck from the top and then remembered and pulled him out from the bottom by one of his legs -- and then very tenderly placed him in her arms :) Tallessyn said, "So it was a breech birth, but everything was fine in the end." Lailyn(sp?) was a sheep but wanted to come out with her sister rather than with the rest of the sheep and shepherds and got bored so she was blowing kisses, loud kisses, to all her relatives in the front row.
During the Passing of the Peace, I told Tallessyn that I'm not usually into small children pageants but that I was almost sorry I missed that one. She didn't really know what to make of that, which made me kinda sad 'cause I actually wasn't trying to be an offensive bitch or even to be awkward. Oh well. (It wasn't a particularly bad scene, just kinda awkward.)
Doxology: "What Child Is This"
Passing of the Peace
Hymn: "We Three Kings"
Announcements (Do I wanna go to the Community Meeting, Social, and Support for Parents, Family and Friends of Transgender People in Quincy this Saturday?)
Closing Hymn: "Eighth Day Carol" by Tallessyn et al's dad
Benediction: "There's A Song in the Air"
During dinner I ended up chatting with Sean and with Tiffany, which made me happy.
I was bantering with Sean and said (about what, I forget), "I wouldn't want to oppress you in that way," and he was like, "Who have you been hanging out with? You sound like you've been hanging out with radical feminists." I was like, "Did we not establish that I went to Smith? I totally know the language -- I just usually only choose to use it in mocking."