It must have been Christmas 1953.
I was 5 years old.
My family went to Immanuel Lutheran Church
At 42nd and Tracy
In Kansas City, Missouri.
Immanuel was the “mother-church” of Lutheran churches in Kansas City.
The Reverend T.A. Weinhold was the pastor.
I remember him to be serious and elegant.
A gentleman and passionate pastor.
I have a vivid memory of that Christmas.
The church was packed . . . and packed might be an understatement.
The Senior Walther League had decorated the massive church.
(Massive might be a relative term; remember I was five)
The church was beautiful . . .
Tinsel . . . lots of shimmering tinsel.
The Christmas Gospel was read
And the pageant began: Mary. Joseph. Shepherds. Angels.
And the choirs
All in robes, like angels
And it was one choir that was called, I think, the “Junior Choir”
High school and college-aged young adults
A large group
Sang a Christmas hymn I had never heard before,
“Oh Holy Night”
And I still remember it.
` How it sounded.
“Fall on your knees and hear the angel voices.”
I remember being enchanted with this “new” hymn
(Although now I know it was written 101 years before I was born.)
“Fall on your knees . . .”
On Christmas eve, 1953
Christmas eve was AWE-some for this five-year-old because of that hymn.
It was like magic to the kid.
In theological terms, it was the unfolding of the mystery of the incarnation
Come alive in the heart and mind of a child.
“Fall on your knees” . . . in joy and awe.
There’s a lot of talk about revitalization of the church.
When we talk about revitalization, maybe we need to see through the heart of a five-year-old.
Remember what Jesus said, Mark 10:14-15?
Rediscover the awesome majesty of God
Recover the mystery
Respond to God’s plan and how it unfolds.
This year, what will your children, be they five, fifteen or twenty-five . . .
What will your children see?
What will they hear?
What will they feel?
What will they taste?
I almost forgot, Christmas at Immanuel meant the candy sack.
Every child got a lunch bag, filled with treats –
A few chocolate drops
And some peanuts.
God bless you with an AWE-some, JOY-filled Christmas!