Away In A (smelly, cold) Manger

When it comes to church, I am a strict traditionalist. I want to sit in my pew, stand when appropriate, sing from a hymnal, put a dollar in the collection plate, listen to a sermon, take communion, go home, repeat next Sunday. I don’t want to wave palm fronds around, get my cues from a Powerpoint presentation, or bang a tambourine.

But my kind is on the verge of extinction, and I accept that. Grudgingly. I currently attend a church that is very into non-traditional worship. It’s a long story of how I ended up there but the bottom line is we really like the minister. So I put up with “Our God Is An Awesome God.”

So I wasn’t necessarily shocked when The Wife came to me and said,

“Tonight’s worship service is taking place in a barn.”

“Excuse me?”

“It’s to bring us closer to the Baby Jesus.”

“Have you been in a barn? Because I’ve been in barns. They are dirty and smelly. They are hot in summer and cold in winter.”

“That’s the point.”

“I don’t need to be reminded that the Baby Jesus had it hard. I know the Baby Jesus had it hard. I’ve read the Bible story. I don’t need to reenact it.”

“Well, we can either go to the barn tonight, or go to Christmas Eve service tomorrow night. But if we go tomorrow night, it will cut into our time at Caroline’s dinner party.”

“Point me in the direction of that barn.”

In our family we do most of our Christmas celebrating on Christmas Eve. There would be a big dinner followed by present opening. For many years Laurie’s mother was in charge and then eventually it fell to Laurie. A couple of years ago, our niece Caroline decided she wanted to take over. Laurie gladly handed over the reins.

Caroline decided to forego the traditional turkey, ham and green bean casserole. The first year she threw a Mexican fiesta. last year it was Chinese, this year it’s Italian. Traditionalist I may be, but I am fine with this. I get my fill of turkey and stuffing over Thanksgiving. I’m good with tamales or pot stickers or veal¬†parmigiana for Christmas Eve. Besides, we eat more traditional fare the next day.

So no, I wasn’t going to miss a minute of Caroline’s X-Mas Eve extravaganza. So yes, last night I drove all the way out to Pacific, Missouri, to sit in a barn and worship Jesus. It was cold in the barn. It smelled of horses in the barn. There were horses in the barn. Straw bales are not comfortable to sit on (although to be fair, neither are pews. But it’s easier to get up from a pew than from a bale of hay).


Now at this point you’re expecting me to have my Grinch moment where my heart grows 3 sizes and I have a religious awakening and I tear up and tell you what a wonderful experience it was and how I was forever changed for the better.

But the Baby Jesus would not want me to lie.

Oh, it was fine. I’m glad I went. The sermon was good. I enjoyed watching the horses. I’m sure they were wondering what the heck was going on. I’m sure Andrew was wondering the same thing. But at least he had the foresight to wear a cap and gloves. I foolishly thought this was going to be a heated barn. It’s possible that the Holy Spirit flowed through me but I was too numb to notice.

But hey, The Wife enjoyed it and Andrew seemed to have a good time and any experience I can get a blog post out of is a good experience, right? Now, bring on the pasta and wine.

Merry Christmas. Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men. God Bless Us, Everyone.






2 responses to “Away In A (smelly, cold) Manger

  1. Merry Christmas, to you and yours. Love.

  2. Well, I’m glad you came. And what made my night was the look on Andrew’s face when he tasted the communion bread! His expression was sort of like mine when I open a gift and realize it’s not something I want.

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