Sunday, December 26, 2010
An Old Salem Christmas Eve
Picture a quaint town with a picturesque church where the sanctuary is draped, from the ceiling, with luscious green boughs of cedar and fir. The smell of dozens of narcissus greet one's senses each year as they bloom daintily on the altar railing. The brass band is merrily playing familiar, sacred carols while the people entering are dressed festively in reds, greens and golds to match their holiday spirit. Mugs of warm apple cider and fragrant buns are served to each by smiling ladies dressed all in white. Then the beeswax candles are passed to each person, lit to symbolize the Light of the World, our Savior born to save us from our sins. This is where 10 members of the Gordon family and one friend were trying to get this Christmas eve morn--one of them only 7 weeks old.
I had my doubts that we'd make it. Girls move slowly in the morning, the baby has to be nursed and then the traffic was slow. To top it off we missed our exit too. It is important to be on time to this yearly event. For you have to arrive at Home Moravian Church in Old Salem by 9:45 am in order to find a pew long enough for our crowd although the service doesn't start until 11 am. This is the first of three services held there this day, this one being the children's service. And sure enough by the time we got there the church was mostly full. Fortunately for us I had talked Claire and Witt, who were traveling from their own quiet home in Whitsett, to be there at the appointed hour, because I knew we, more than likely would be a little late this year. Although we were a little late we did get our pew, thanks to the Davises. We even had time to spare. ( To pass the time a few of us women always stand in line at the ladies room waiting to use the one stall facilities.) Also Lauren and Ela had to make an emergency diaper change assisted by her nanny to be.
I really enjoy the brass band and the organ as they play the meaningful songs of my childhood. It is a service I don't want to miss, nor does any one else in the family. As we filed into the pew I noticed I was quite a few people away from my grandbaby, Gabriela. I whispered to Hart that I had wanted to sit beside Lauren and Ela, but oh well. But Lauren leaned over all the family members and asked me if I wanted to hold Ela and of course I was elated. She was restless for a few minutes but soon settled into my arms and snoozed throughout the whole service. There was the constant sound of babies cooing or crying and toddlers talking, seeming to answer one another from across the sanctuary. But it was fine as this was the service for the children. The pastor said that in Germany of old only the children were invited to this service, but now adults are allowed to be a part of it as well. It is a simple service. The children's choir sings, the youth read the scripture and pray. The pastor did give a sentence message. As we sang Away in a Manger I couldn't help but feel how Jesus must have really looked when he entered the world, much like the baby I held in my arms--helpless, sweet smelling and warm. Mary, what must she have thought and felt. Such awe and wonder. ( I just wanted to constantly kiss that plump little face and couldn't stop staring at her perfect rosebud mouth.) The service ended with the congregation standing, singing Joy to the World. And as we sing the last verse, He rules the world with truth and grace all candles are lifted high into the air by the congregation declaring that Jesus is indeed Lord of our lives, one can see hundreds of flames waving towards heaven, a fragrant offering to the baby born so long ago.