Lots of speculation on this day as to what it was like that evening when there was no room in the inn. Lots of talk about this amazing gift, God as infant, beginning in such unexpected ways. There are lots of things that are held as part of tradition or assumed by those in the West; that the end of December is marks the actual date or that it is warm in Bethlehem because that part of the world is always warm. There are lots of things I am pretty sure most people have wrong in the mental picture of the stable. The one that hit me this week was twice having pigs mentioned as part of the menagerie. Sheep? Absolutely. Goats? Probably. Cows? Perhaps. Chicken? Good chance. Pigs? Pretty sure there weren't any pigs.
Sharing ones gifts, be it music or dance or poetry or what have you, as a part of worship is still a part of worship. I share as a way of saying thank you for what I have been able to learn and enjoy. I play because I love to. I play in hopes that the music will bring others further in to the worship experience, as it does for me. It is not about me. I am simply the medium. A sermon is another medium to help us go further up and further in. No one applauds after a though provoking or spirit filling sermon. An "Amen" or a smile or a deep breath are appropriate. The same goes for other gifts that are shared in the context of worship. Please, no applause.
"So, we are going to try something a little different this year." the pastor says as the kids are in the middle of rehearsing on Christmas Eve. She then pulls out a box of candles. Individual candles. This is not the candlelight service. We moms weren't warned to have their hair pulled back or their outfits include flame retardant. Oh my. I sure hope this isn't an evening to remember.