They were not the Christmas Eve services Currier and Ives would have featured.
The pianist got ahead of herself and skipped past the advent carol. Behind us, a baby in a too-prickly Christmas dress screamed like a Banshee. The overhead screens with the lyrics to “We Three Kings” got stuck on the first verse, which meant it sounded something like this…
“Hmmm, hmm, hmmm ON BETHLEHEM’S hmmm. Hmmm hmmm hmm hmm CROWN HIM AGAIN… hmming hmmm-er hmmming ever, Hmmm hmm hmm hmm hm hmmm, O-OHHHHHH! STAR OF WONDER, STAR OF NIGHT…”
Blocking my view of the Nativity play, the woman in front of me and her bedazzled Cowgirl hat. The communion loaf did not want to broken, leaving the pastor to awkwardly wrestle it into submission. The baby kept screaming.
And in the midst of it, the sacred moments still came. “Silent Night” by candlelight. The remembrance that “unto us a child is born, unto us, a son is given.”
Holiness in the middle of chaos. Divinity dwelling among our imperfections. Emmanuel, God with us — not despite our failings and falling-shorts, but because of them.
A perfect Christmas Eve service, after all.