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Christmas Hide and Seek

December 25, 2013

Pastor Dennis welcomed the children as they sat in front of the altar on Christmas Eve. “It’s nice to see so many of you here tonight.” He said. He admitted that he hadn’t planned on a Children’s Sermon, but couldn’t resist with so many kids in attendance. He was winging it.

The congregation sat up a little straighter, each person straining for a clear view of the activities up front. Children’s sermons could be unpredictable and were always entertaining…

Each child sat on the altar step, quivering with anticipation… energy pulsed through their little bodies. You could see it in their eyes.

They were all dressed in their holiday best: Izzy wore her red velour dress with white faux fur trim paired with a matching Santa hat. She looked like she came straight from the North Pole. Lindy came to church in a dress that matched her personality perfectly: a black bodice with a poufy skirt of hot pink and black. She wore a coordinating headband with a fashionable bright pink flower positioned just so over her left eye.

“What is special about tonight?” Pastor Dennis asked the kids.

Four year old Lindy exclaimed “Santa is coming!”

The congregation chuckled.

Lindy looked at her family… “Mommy and Daddy, don’t laugh!” She pleaded, eliciting more laughter from the rest of us.

Brian, early in his elementary school career, answered “Jesus was born on Christmas.”

“Well,” said the pastor, “you are both right.” He glanced at the congregation and explained, “Lindy is absolutely right… and so is Brian.” He turned back to the kids. “Santa is coming tonight. But here, in church, we celebrate the birth of Jesus on Christmas.”

‘Pastor Dennis,” Lindy spoke above the laughter, “Why was Jesus born on Christmas?”

A brief silence was followed by a wave giggles and chuckles that rolled from wall to wall throughout the sanctuary. Lindy’s father covered his face with a hand while her grandfather laughed so hard he had tears rolling down his face.

“I’m too tired to think of an answer for that one tonight,” said Pastor Dennis as he shifted gears. “Have you kids ever played Hide and Seek?”

Every child’s head bobbed affirmatively.

Pastor Dennis and the kids discussed the rules of the game: they determined that many could play at once, all but one hid, then the seeker counted before going off to find the others.

“How high do you count?” Asked the Pastor. “Do you count to ten?”

“No! Eleven!” Greta interjected.

The congregation laughed once again.

Pastor asked “then, what do you do?”

All the children chimed “Ready or not, here I come!”

Izzy raised her hand and began waving it vigorously. “I want to hide!”

“Where?” Asked the pastor.

“There!“ The red clad little girl scampered over to the front pew and crawled beneath.

Dennis stepped in front of her hiding place. “There, now we can’t see Izzy.”

“Okay, now cover your eyes and count to eleven,” pastor instructed.

Lindy piped up. “No, count to four!”

“Okay, four: one, two, three, four…”

“Ready or not, here we come!“ The Pastor stepped aside as the kids found Izzy.

He explained that our relationship is the same way with God. Sometimes we hide from God, but He never stops looking for us. He never gives up.

Once again Izzy hid, this time behind the pulpit, and again, the rest of the kids searched.

When she was found, the pastor sent the kids back to their seats and began the adult version of his sermon, then moved on to Holy Communion.

The lights dimmed after our candles were lit and we sang ’Silent Night’ then closed with ‘Go Tell it on the Mountain.’

Lindy’s dad held her in his arms during the last two songs. She theatrically treated those of us sitting behind her with a toothy grin and a glint in her eye, targeting first one parishioner, then another as the songs progressed.

None of us were able to resist her charm… or form the words to the songs when we were under her spell.

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