I have good news to share before I fall asleep. Our church Christmas party was a success! Alas, I have no pictures to share with you--I was told I would be the royal photographer at the event--but as I was running around doing many other things, I took perhaps three pictures in all. Instead you can imagine a room with long tables covered with red paper tablecloths, tea lights in glass holders and vases filled with boughs of holly and red berries. Before all this materialized, before we even arrived at the church, I was woken from my sleep by a terrible racket in the kitchen, tin pie pans and metal pots and pans falling from what could only have been a great height. Through the door, I heard mother exclaim that she was burning the rice porridge and that she was quite done with this particular thick-bottomed pot and that--by Aslan's mane--she would buy a new one to keep if it so cost her a thousand kronor. Then father pulled open the door to my room and leaned over me to look through our collection of cds, currently housed in our bookcases.
We spent the morning packing up everything we would need for church--candles, biscuits, vases, flowers, decorations, bread, breadbaskets, microphones, cords, stands, to name a few--and mother made strong coffee in our two French presses, whilst I helped father pick out a tie to go with his waistcoat. Arriving at church was no small matter--we packed and pushed all our things into the car, and still we had to drive back for a second helping--but thankfully, volunteers descended upon the building to arrange tables and decorate, giving me the time to set up the sound system and slip on some sugar. Ida arrived with a tall, silvered candelabra, saying she thought the church needed one, and we found a quiet corner to practice our song, to which I was forgetting either the words or the melody in rapid succession.
The evening passed too quickly as I ran from place to place to move things along, and while I realize they were important and necessary, I cannot help but wish I could have been a little bit less like Martha. I felt I was leaving my friends halfway through the conversation, darting off to attend to something or other. I have trouble forming an opinion of the evening (I was much too disconnected), but I have been told that everyone enjoyed themselves, and it was a splendid evening, all in all. I gave up my position as a spectator to become an active part in the evening's engineering and execution--to my loss, but to the benefit of others--and for that I can only be thankful.
Someone once said, every pastor should try their hand at mission work, and every missionary their hand at pastoring. Only then could they understand not only the importance of the other's work, but also its joys and hardships. Pappa is used to tent meetings, to large crowds that come with a free and open spirit, that expect God to show up in full form, trailing miracles in His wake. Now he has to contend with a much smaller group, a church that has suffered through hard ground and declining membership and is only just beginning to cautiously sprout again. He must lug boxes and synthesizers and sound equipment from the cellar every Sunday, must be the first there and last to leave, must see the same people every week, encouraging their talents, tempering and training their personalities to work together in the cohesive whole. He must, quite simply, tend to a flock for an extended period of time (a new dynamic for him altogether), and of course, rejoice in the results of his care--increased interest and a growing spirit of unity among the members of our tiny but hearty church.
It is not easy, but it is worth the doing.