Each Advent my SFO Fraternity remembers the story of Francis at Greccio with a re-enactment of our own. In alternating song, story and movement of costumed actors and live animals, the Nativity story is retold along with the story of how the Baby Jesus miraculously appeared in a manger where Francis prayed in Greccio. Carols will be sung and many from the community will participate. It's always a wonderful experience.
In a way this whole Greccio celebration at our Fraternity parallels Advent for me. Beforehand, there is much rushing around. Most of our Fraternity consists of senior citizens, so their ability to do "grunt work" like hauling chairs around, building the "stable" or carrying the big coffee urn full of hot cocoa is limited. Some are shut-ins and can't even be there. That means that the work of getting children in and out of costumes, making cocoa, setting up chairs, and cleaning up afterward is left for the few of us who are young and able enough to do it.
In a similar way, most Christmas preparations tend to fall to the mom in the house. I know this is true in my family. It is my job to get the cards and stamps and pictures (though Big Daddy writes most of them); my job to do most of the present shopping; my job to do all the gift-wrapping, and so on.
Last night I left my Fraternity meeting feeling frustrated because the sign-up sheet representing 9 "needed" people to do tasks before and after the event, was more than half empty.
This morning I woke up feeling a little different about it.
This is not about who does what. It's just about making it happen.
This is a precious moment in the life of a parish, to come together and be part of the scene as Jesus comes among us.
So, Before and After, I will do what is needed. During, I will lead the choir--and no matter how many or few of us there may be, "Joy to the World" will ring out joyfully. My gift to Baby Jesus at Greccio will be to serve with a happy heart--happy that I am young enough and able enough to haul chairs, make cocoa, and adjust angel wings.