Put Your Hands Up

Grandma = Babysitter.  Jodi and I worked this equation the other night and went out on the town to the Walhalla Inn to catch a little live music.  For a town of 1,100 to have live music on a Saturday night is fairly impressive.  (Note: There will also be live music today at 2pm over at the Senior Center featuring the musical stylings of yours truly.)  I’ll also note that it was packed.  The guy playing did a great job.  He played guitar and sang fun covers and some nice originals.  One of Jodi’s friends from high school was telling Jodi how she enjoyed him.  I had my back to the bar and was agreeing with her and saying that maybe now would be a good time to wave our cell phones in the air.  Just as I was doing the motion of quickly raising my cell in the air Jodi’s drink arrived.  From the bar.  Which was behind me.  I did not see it coming.   But I felt it as my upward shooting hand connected firmly with the bottom of the glass.  Messy and embarassing.  This is why I’ve never actually raise my cell phone at concerts.  That, and my phone only stays lit for all of 3 seconds.  Open close open close open close.  Not worth it.

I have a great cousin who grew up Lutheran, spent a few years as a practicing Heathen, then went soul searching in Montana, found God (who coincidentally had never lost my cousin) and emerged from Montana with what his charasmatic brothers and sisters would refer to as ‘zeal for the lord’ and a ‘longing to be in the Word’ it was like honey on his brain or something to that effect.  I still (and I’m not mocking or joking or sarcasing) consider him one of the biggest faith influences in my life even though my faith practice and his faith practice look very different on Sunday morning. 

In junior high this cousin came to visit us (he’s about 10 years older or so) in Seward NE.  Sunday morning we went to St. Johns Lutheran Church where we went every Sunday morning.  During the prayers of the people he started verbally agreeing with what was being said.  Hallelujah, yes Jesus, Amen, Oh praise the Lord, etc… As an eighth grader this could have been kind of embarassing to be seen sitting next to the wacko mutterer of agreeance.  But from my perspective it just made Church way more interesting.  Way.  In fact I tried it on for a while, though as a young confirmand all I could muster was an occasional and very quiet mmhmm.  But I tried.  Then the pastor must have hit on an item of praise that said cousin whole heartidly agreed with because out of nowhere both hands shot into the air and out came a louder than conversational volume, “YesPraiseYouJesusHallelujah!”  At this point I abandoned all hopes of living up to his level of Zeal.   Later I asked him about the whole outstretched arms things and he told me that he had decided (akin to his theological stance on choice) after his conversion in Montana that in his prayer and praise he could keep his hands down, do the half raised flat palms up thing, or dive right in and let loose with those arms.  He figured if it’s worth doing it’s worth doing right, hence the fully extended arms of praise to Jesus.

At our Christmas Eve service here in ND, where I’ve spent 2/3rds of my married Christmases, we recieved candles, as usual, and ended the service with a little Silent Night action.  This is my favorite part of the service.  Not just because it’s pretty and beautiful, and Halmarky, but because in my heart I am still twelve and I live in the expectant hope that someone’s overdone hair will go up in flames.  You always hear stories of that happening but just once I want to witness it first hand.  Just once.

As the pastor prepped everyone on correct lighting proceedures (ushers light end, tip the unlit candle etc.) he added “And of couse it’s our tradition to raise our candles when singing of the Christ child.”  I looked at Jodi.  What?  When did this tradition start and where was it the last 7 times I was here?  It was a little confusing too.  How long do you hold it up?  Just for the words ‘Holy Infant?’ Can you keep it up to the end of the line to sync it up with the music?  What about ‘sleep in heavenly peace?’ Who’s sleeping? Jesus.  So should we hold it up for that since Jesus is receiving the action?  I needed an editor sitting beside me just to help me deduce when it was appropriate to hold up my candle.  I had already spent two verses trying to figure out when and how long I should be raising my candle.  Or, in this case, candles, plural.  Jodi had traded her candle for a child in hopes that this child of ours would refrain from starting any fires.  (So it’s her fault I never witness Aquanets’ flammable properties).  So it’s verse three, I’ve got two candles and we hit ‘Son of God’ in the second line.  My candles are up.  It feels good.  If it’s worth doing it’s worth doing right.  I keep ’em up.  All these light refrences totally justify it.  We’re singing.  It’s dark.  I’ve got candles in the air.  It wasn’t a concious decision, they just start to sway.  Slowly.  Like I’m at a Michael W. Smith concert and he breaks into Emily.

It was beautiful.  Until Jodi jabbed me in the side.  ‘Put those down!’ in a hushed but firm tone.  Apparently everyone else had already done this.  I pulled them down.  We blew them out.  The moment was over.  And Jodi has already informed me that next Christmas Eve, unlike this year, we will not be sitting in the front row.

Posted: December 29th, 2008
Categories: family, friendship
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