Weird Things About Christmas
Reverand Mike’s Christmas Eve morning sermon focused on the bizarre connection between the hope that Mary sang about in the Magnificat and the personal and cultural upheaval that surrounded her. He related it to the hope we manage to celebrate each Christmas in spite of sometimes tragic circumstances-I think about the recent loss of a friends’ infant niece, the uncertainty that another couple has about whether or not they will get to keep the daughter they’ve raised since birth, that poor husband and wife who died in a swamp on the way to their family’s home for the holidays. My favorite quote from the sermon was that Christians end up saying, “I know our hope is crazy, but…”
It is crazy. It’s weird– more than just a little. But hey, I’m a little weird. Mary was, too. A friend of mine says, “everyone is weird.” After I thought about it I decided that he couldn’t be more right. Being “not weird” is an idealistic goal of the young. It’s an illusion. My favorite people are those who just own their weirdness, whether it is a self-conscious act or not makes no difference to me.
As John and I drove to church this morning we talked about how everyone is weird. Since our friend first said this to us, we’ve been rolling the profundity of the notion around in our heads. Then I had an epiphany (an actual one, not to be confused with our next party, Epiphany on Skates–Of Death!! on January 13–if you read this you are invited): I didn ‘t feel like I was being critical as I said “people are weird.” It was just a statement of fact, like “if you lick a frozen metal pole, your tongue will freeze to it.”
John and I went to church early this morning for bell choir practice. Neither of us feel great about our ringing abilities with this music, to the point that I sometimes wonder why I agreed to play in bell choir when I could be listening to someone much more capable do the job.
We got there before anyone else, so John and I pulled out our bells and we each started pretending to play them along with the music. Then John said, “hey, we play mean air bells.” I quoted from that Will Ferrell SNL skit, “I gotta have more air bell.” I was reminded again about how weird we are, but for some reason this all calmed me down.
Then I thought about how weird the first Christmas was. Full of interuptions, unplanned pregnancies, an inconvenient census, a suspicious husband, crowded hotels. The barn out back was probably the most peaceful place Mary could find, and I’m sure she “needed a moment” just like we all do this time of year, especially when a bunch of sheep hands showed up in her already livestock-crowded nursery unannounced. It was weird–joyous, but weird. Hopeful, but weird. Holy, but weee-ird.
I’m glad to have finally figured this whole weird thing out. It makes me a lot more comfortable with the feelings of angst, pressure, weeriness, and lurking suspicion that something hasn’t been done yet. Not that getting to the place of reflection isn’t important (it wasn’t that Mary didn’t try to get a hotel room). It’ll just happen when it happens. Maybe it’s happening now as I’m supposed to be taking a nap along with the rest of my family so we can stay up for the midnight service. I better get some sleep though. I won’t be able to get away with playing air bells tonight.