Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Accurately Away In A Manger

We sang Away in a Manger on Christmas Day. No surprise that, but I noticed that one line had been changed -- while I was belting out the traditional verse and everyone else was singing the new one.

Instead of reading: The little Lord Jesus no crying he makes, it had been rewritten that The little Lord Jesus a sweet sound He makes.

Well, in the tradition of St John the evangelist who saw the Incarnation in all its 100% humanity, and 100% divinity, I say that stinks as a replacement.

If Jesus was a real little baby, then he made sounds -- lots of them, and noisy ones. So don't go replacing a silent baby with one that coos, because I've had a couple of babies and they rarely coo, especially when they're lying in straw, and especially if it's filthy.

So please, whoever rewrites the carols, could you please go the whole way and say like it is?

A Bad Hair Day and the Art of Perfection

In the continuing saga of my quest for a good and blessed Christmas, I must confess to vanity.

It was Christmas Eve day. Putting the finishing touches on wrapping. Fielding last minute letters to Santa. Checking to see if we had enough carrots on hand for all the reindeer. Preparing for a sister's birthday celebration, as well as my in-law's big Christmas Eve dinner.

And wouldn't you know it -- unsightly hairs had sprouted on my upper lip. (Mine is an age when the balance of hormones, dipping a little too far on the side of testosterone, does this to a girl.) Time to try out the new hair removal kit purchased expressly for the moment.

According to the instructions, it's dead simple -- apply the premixed wax strip to the skin above your upper lip, press down, then yank in the opposite direction of hair growth.

At first I only accomplished squishy blue stuff stuck to my skin. But I live by the adage try, try again. So I did. Several times. My lips hurt and so did the skin all the way to my nose. Fortunately, soothing gel's included.

Not until I was in the car heading out of town did I notice faint red marks above my lips. Cover cream fixed that and I continued on my way.

Later that night, when I slipped into the powder room, I shrieked at the sight of the third degree burn victim staring back at me in the mirror -- my upper lip was a series of concentric circles like fields of wheat that have been visited by UFOs.

And what is with these husbands who sit right next to you and say nothing!?! I took him aside. This is the deal, dear: When I ask you if I look fat in something, I expect you to lie. But when I look like this, I expect you to whisper in my ear that I need to fix my face.

He had on his scared owlish look, so left it at that, and slathered on the cover cream.

By Christmas Day there were scabs -- and a lesson learned about the fruitless pursuit of perfection.

So when one of my church friends started talking about the numerous faux pas the minister had committed in both the Midnight Carol Service the night before and on Christmas Day, I was unsympathetic explaining my bad hair day and subsequent capitulation to vanity.

Since the Church Universal is filled with all manner of people who sing off-key, behave in strange ways, make offensive comments and who don't agree with us theologically, we can never hope to fix all the stray dark hairs -- imagined and otherwise -- that sprout up willy-nilly. And we can waste a whole lot of time obsessing on the superficial imperfections and overlook our main reason for being there: worship and the fine art of building up the Body in each other as flawed and sinful as all of us are.