By Ruth DuCharme
On the evening of our Hanging of the Green service, participants gathered early to rehearse their part in this annual tradition. As the rehearsal was taking place, I was sitting with Tracie and David Mincey and their children. As we watched the decorators practice their parts, four-year-old Will Mincey observed the Advent candles being placed in the Advent wreath. I am sure that the tall, colorful, slender candles caught his attention. He turned to his mom and with his preschool enthusiasm asked, "Are we going to have cake?"
Tracie, David, and I smiled at Will and at the truth that he expressed. We knew that for him, those tall candles represented a birthday celebration, and birthday celebrations mean birthday cake. We affirmed to Will that yes, indeed, the candles are for celebrating a birthday - a very special birthday - the birthday of Christ.
In his sweet, child-like spirit, Will got it! He got the fact that this is a season for a special celebration. He got the fact that this is the celebration of a birth and of the coming of Christ into our world. It is a celebration of God being clothed in flesh and coming to live among us - Emmanuel! Will reminded me that in the midst of all that we do to make Christmas a grand event, it is simply a birthday celebration. It is an occasion to eat cake and rejoice in a very special gift that is given for us.
Over the past few weeks, in our church and in our homes we have prepared and planned for this birthday. On Christmas Eve we will gather in our sanctuary for our final corporate celebration of this Advent season. We will sit with our family and friends to sing carols and to read Luke 2. We will hug each other and whisper greetings of "Merry Christmas." We will light candles and meditate on God's miracle. And while there won't be cake, there will be bread - the body of Christ, the bread of life - broken for us and made ready for us to share on this night. So come, let us adore him, and let us celebrate this amazing birthday.