We had a wonderful Christmas Day, that actually began the night before at a Christmas Eve Service at Asbury-Dunwell Church, where I am serving. About 10 days earlier, I was talking to a friend (who doesn’t update her blog much anymore) and she was lamenting that her ministry to singles didn’t have a way to connect Christmas to Christ, and longed for a Christmas Eve service. I too had been missing it, all the way from last year. While Christmas is a big deal in the Ghanaian culture, not so in the church. I didn’t hear a single Christmas message preached, or sing carols as part of a regular church service, with the exception of the Elim Youth Sunday, which was fantastic and all about Christ. That’s not fair, I hear from our good Methodist friends that they did sing carols, but did so the British way. Read: different melodies or words. For example singing “Angels from the realms of Glory,” but to the tune of “Angels we have heard on High.”
Now here is the strange part – we already do that when we are in the car and bored with singing them the “normal” way . My lastborn, Anna, is a master of it, like singing “We Three Kings” to the tune of “Silent Night,” or Jingle Bells to Silent Night. Now imagine a whole church doing it…weird, and fun.
So about ten days before Christmas, I ask the Elders if we could do this Christmas Eve service, and they approve it. I put together a service and email it to an Elder, and she does the rest. Amazing, a service 100% organized, staffed, resourced, and all I had to do is preach. It was a lovely service, the readings, the carols, communion presided over by Michael Mozley, who came to my rescue, when I couldn’t remember how the ritual went. And then candles. Its already 85-90 degrees, but turn off the ceiling fans, and add 130 lit candles, and the place gets hot! Michael and I are behind the table, and sweat is pouring down our faces. Still it was beautiful, and a glimpse into heaven, especially after Silent Night, and the Benediction, when the church erupts into “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” raising their candles high and waving them around. Such joy!
On Christmas morning, Suzanne and I woke to the smell of pancakes and bacon, as is our tradition made by Fox, Grace and Anna. After breakfast we opened presents. Last year they were a rather humble lot, in fact Anna told me that last year was when she figured out Santa because all the gifts were from Ghana. But not this year, we were prepared from being in the states this summer, but add in the trips to South Africa, Japan, and Boston, and then Fulbright Ana’s friends arrived bringing a huge box of gifts and supplies from her mother, and we were incredibly blessed.
After our Christmas nap, we went to the missionary gathering over at Jeff and Lori’s, for the largest pot luck I have ever seen (150+), then a carol sing, and then Nasty Santa, with 82 people. A modified rule set kept the stealing down, that and the largest collection of the nicest people I’ve ever know, and it was a blast. Big hits were a 3 lbs bag of skittles, bag of Starbucks coffee beans, a huge jar of Jiff, and a duffle bag made from sachet water bags. Suzanne briefly owned it long enough to snap a picture. Last year we had tried to go, but we didn’t own a car, and finding a Taxi on Christmas, well we missed it.
It was a good Christmas here in Ghana, especially with all the kids back together again.