I am sure that a few of y’all were looking forward to the next episodes of my stories, or wanted to see what I might still have in the stack. I didn’t put any stories up this weekend, though, because my computer was on strike for a few days.
It was a long enough weekend here even without that: I met an old friend and ate good food, learned a few things I didn’t expect, read several fine tales, stayed up too late, locked myself out, and still had to get to work this morning at eight o’clock.
Probably one of the most unanticipated events this weekend was in a little Vineyard Pentacostal service we visited on Saturday night, where the oldest member of the band might have been all of twenty-five, and was likely the only one out of high school. A couple of them looked like they hadn’t started yet. But the beardless kid walloping on the drum machine through “O Come All Ye Faithful” set a pace that had my legs more than half-tempted to mark double-time.
That’s when the familiar carol’s paradigm downshifted like McQueen and floored it, and I realized what the shepherds saw that had them “sore afraid.”
That wasn’t some foppish Fauntleroy in a too-long nighty and a spotlight that appeared over the hills. That was an officer of the war-host of heaven in full regalia guaranteeing “peace on Earth to men of good will” in the name of the King who’d just made His entrance. And that wasn’t a chancel of castratti and choir-boys elboing in behind him, either: the Vulgate does it better justice than our post-medaevalist Christmas cards phrase of a “host” of angels. As Jerome translates Luke 2:13, “multitudo militiae caelestis”. Whole regiments were passing in review before the Throne, in precisely disciplined arrays of holy lethality ready to take back some peace on Earth. These warriors would have made Rome’s finest look like slobs and patsies, and all of a sudden the lonely Judean countryside has unfurled into heaven’s parade-groud and the shepherds find themselves out of rank between the squads. I’d have been sore afraid to find myself there too!
And with that thought, we begin the Advent season.
[Edit to clarify: the Vineyard service was on Saturday night.]