December 10, 2019

Outgrowing His Swaddling Cloths

In Cedarfield tradition, the Pastoral Care Team created this compilation of holiday memoirs by team members and residents. We will share one a day through the holidays. Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Myra Nagel, Resident

During the years that I served as Associate Minister at Emmaus UnitedChurch of Christ in Vienna, Virginia, my favorite Christmas servicewas their White Gift Service. This popular tradition dramatized Matthew’sstory of magi who came from the east, bringing gifts to the newborn Christchild.

As the pageant began, the Holy Family (the congregation’s youngest baby andhis or her parents) walked slowly down the aisle. Mary cradled her infant in herarms. After they had taken their places behind the rough-hewn manger, elaboratelycostumed magi (the choir’s three best male soloists) entered one by one, each singinga verse of “We Three Kings.” When the tableau was complete, the congregationwas invited to approach. Family by family, they knelt at the altar and presentedgifts of toys and books, wrapped in white. The gifts would later be delivered toa charity who would distribute them to needy children.

I always loved this service. I remember all the different Holy Families withaffection. Sometimes “Jesus” slept blissfully through the whole thing. Sometimesthe baby watched intently as people presented their gifts. The service I remembermost fondly is the one that took place in the year when the congregation’s youngestoffspring was over seven months old. That baby Jesus sat up in the mangercontentedly eating rice crackers!

I smiled then, and I smile now at the memory. Yet my amusement did not detract from the feelingof reverence that always came over me as I participated in this pageant. Indeed, it remindedme that the real Baby Jesus also outgrew his swaddling cloths, and that the events of GoodFriday and Easter lay ahead. Christmas was just the beginning.