Christmas eve 4:30 mass

on Christmas eve, we arrived at church at 3:55, when mass was slated to begin at 4:30, wanting to hear the children's choir sing prior to the beginning of mass. much to our surprise, there were *apparently* seats available -- or so we thought. just about every person we spoke to who was sitting at the end of a pew told us that the seats within the pew were *saved* for family and friends. hmmm. so off we'd go to a row or two behind, and received the same response. my husband was livid. i was slightly annoyed, but didn't want it to get in the way of appreciating mass.

so we finally settled into our seats and were comfortably spread out as a family and i saw these two ladies who were seeking seats for themselves and family, if there was room, but were happy when i said we'd move over and they could sit with us, only thing is their family had to sit elsewhere. we were squished, but content to be sitting.

the family who was expected to sit in the pew in front of us, started arriving two by two and took their places. they were dressed beautifully - very classic styling, pearls, cashmere sweaters, slacks, suit jackets, babies in tartan plaids. i felt a little uncomfortable, really, by this time because i don't dress like that for church. i feel God truly meets you right where you are, and i was dressed in black tights, red shirt, black cardigan, denim jumper...daughter was dressed in jeans and a hoodie, which in retrospect, was a little too underdressed. in fact, everybody, it seemed, was bedecked and bedazzled in their Christmas finery. call me unchurched, but i thought the finery was exclusive to Easter sunday? but i digress.

so i am sitting here in my squishy pew and am feeling worse about how i look than i felt about where we were going to sit. i was, in a word, mortified. i thought, you know He does meet us right where we are, and we can dress however we like; Christmas eve mass, however, is not *business as usual* and i felt a wave of shame come over me.

however, as mass proceeded and my heart settled into the liturgy, i started feeling better about things. it would seem that by the body language of the couple (part of the family) in front of us didn't attend church very often, due to the gent shifting his weight from one leg to the other, and finally, the right foot started tapping as if he was impatiently waiting for an elevator door to open. it was further enhanced by the fact that the wife whispered something in his ear, and he dutifully left his sacred spot to go and fetch something for her - that something being her bottle of evian water; apparently, she was parched, as was he, since he brought his own bottle with him.

i am trying to love and feel love for these people who are dressed waaay better than i on the whole (i am now speaking of the entire congregation). i am trying not to judge those folks who attend Christmas and Easter and feel as though they are dutifully attending the spiritual needs of themselves and their families. i am trying, Lord, to love as you love, but in my wretchedness, can only feel like a fool because i am underdressed. is this insanity or what?
~~ my husband is on a rant because of the seating arrangements and *monsignor oughta do something*
~~i am feeling wretched because i didn't *think* prior to leaving the house in a rush to get to mass that i wasn't dressed enough, nor did my daughter think, either and i should be more mindful.

but i did think about one thing when i was there: that the God of the Universe, the God who blew breath into the nostrils of adam; the God whose Spirit hovered over the great oceans, who fashioned the earth and creatures and gave us instructions to subdue it; the God who hand-picked the stars, also hand-picked me and calls me His own; that very God -- came to us, in the form of a human being, born in a stable in the most humblest of beginnings -- He came to dwell among us and have us learn from Him and was born to save us from ourselves, from our shortcomings, our tempers, our illnesses, our mindsets. He came. He came and is love and is still with us today.

When I consider the heavens the work of thy fingers,
the moon and the stars
- which Thou hast ordained;
what is man
that Thou art mindful of
Thou hast made him
a little lower than the angels,
and has
crowned him with glory and honour!
(Psalm 8:3-5)

My Lord and My God. thank you for allowing to feel the message of what is important - not what clothes i wear. not if i am comfortable in my seat, or if i even have a seat. not if somebody wanted to save seats for their families, bless their hearts. o wretched (w0)man that i am, who will rescue me ...

what is essential is that You came to us, and moreover, that i recognize You.


Julie D. said...

YAY for Jesus getting that message through to you! The more I read, the more familiar it sounded ... just like when the girls were little and singing in a children's choir so we'd be forced to go to the Christmas Eve Children's Mass. Talk about a hard setting to find Jesus in!

Now we always go on Christmas Day. There is something about it that I love; celebrating His birthday on the day we have set aside for it. Also, it's much less crowded so it's a lot easier to concentrate on why we're there in the first place. :-)

~m2~ said...

you know, it was crowed. i mean *really crowded* dangerous, people lined up against the walls crowded.

plenty of seats this morning though. and plenty yesterday - i served Communion at Christmas mass and lectored this morning. i am really feeling so much better about it, but man, friday night i felt terrible until we came home and had dinner and discussed it.

something very special about Christmas day mass, everything about it.

but honestly? and this is probably the only time i will say it: I CANNOT WAIT FOR LENT!!!

(am i alone in Lent being my favorite of all favorite times of year? oh, my heart races at the thought of it!!)

Julie D. said...

I'll be curious to see if anyone else can't wait for Lent ... we are NOT "twins" on that subject. Lent is one of those things that I don't think about much but if I did I would not look forward to it. Once it's here and I'm going through it I get innumerable blessings and benefits so that's all good ... maybe that's why I also don't dread it.

Essy said...

I'm with you on the Lent thing...LOVE it! It's about stripping away everything that is not of God to make room for Him...I suppose Advent should be the same but somehow the 'worldliness' of secular Christmas has set in and there is usually way too much to do.

As far as dressing up for Christmas though, I'm one that likes to dress up too...I think it's a cultural thing too...we tend to dress up at least a little bit for Mass on Sunday anyway.

But you've hit the nail on the head about the none judging thing. I used to get pretty wrapped up in that myself...and it's a constant struggle to just focus on what God is calling you to do and be hospitable and pleasant to the guests that only come on a yearly basis.