“As the wax flew like raindrops in a dust devil people started to scatter. My well-planned Christmas Eve worship service was about to go up in flames.”
Worship is like theater; we bring our whole self to it. That’s the only way a person can internalize the experience.
Watseka certainly brought her whole self to worship. A sweet older lady from Kentucky, Watseka decided to worship with our congregation while visiting family in Michigan.
She was one of those people who are opinionated but kind. A “clairvoyant siant,” she said she saw things others could not.
One time she told me that she could see protons and neutrons in the air when she worshipped. When I saw the look in her eyes, I believed her and backed away slowly.
Overall, things were going pretty well with our new senior saint; that is until Christmas Eve service.
Always a popular event, the sanctuary was packed. We’d made it through the first few carols and had shared Luke’s narrative about the birth of Jesus. Things really were going well.
Then we gathered around the front of the sanctuary to partake in the Lord’s Table. A somber, reflective atmosphere hovered around us. After communion, we each took a small candle and passed the flame, one-to-another. Things really were going well – until the opening lines of, Silent Night. There was something about that song that lit Watseka’s inner flame.
The church was probably over-decorated, but pretty. Lots of garland, angel banners, pine boughs…and now, candles.
We were probably too tightly-packed around the altar when it all started. Somewhere in the second verse, Watseka just could not contain her joy any longer. We could see her toes tapping, her knees bending, her head bobbing, her candle wavering. That’s when she started to twirl – with the burning candle raised above her head.
Bill, the builder, was standing right behind her. Builders are practical people. They think about safety and various materials. She was the spinning top in the middle of the quiet. Because of her uncertain temperament, no one wanted to stop her.
Instead, people started moving back, just to give her some space. All I could think of was her comment about protons and neutrons and it seemed to me that this twirling vortex of fire might be like Elijah who was caught up to Heaven in a chariot of fire. Nope. Just Watseka dancing to Silent Night. I could understand it if it was Jingle Bells or even Angels We Have Heard on High; something more upbeat. But Silent Night?
As the wax flew like raindrops in a dust devil people started to scatter. My well-planned Christmas Eve worship service was about to go up in flames.
Then just as suddenly as she started twirling, she stopped. Her face lifted toward Heaven, a smile fixed on her face, and wax dripping on her hand – I’m pretty sure she saw the face of Jesus in the protons and neutrons.
No evergreens caught fire but a few worshipers were anointed with wax. That Christmas Eve service was ritual for some, entertainment for others, but pure spiritual ecstasy for Watseka – who brought her whole self to the moment.
Afterward, we talked among ourselves. Should we speak to her? Should we tell her not to come back? How should we handle this eccentric saint? That’s when I thought of all the people in the Christmas story. Joseph had dreams with angels talking. Mary and Elizabeth had a conversation with an angel. Shepherds heard an angel choir. The Magi traveled nine-hundred miles to bring their gifts. Our decision was made. From now on we would have to use L.E.D. candles and let the her twirl.