An uplifting experience

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 20, 2002

Today (Sunday) I became religious. It was thrust upon me and I had no way of refusing it. A phone call from a minister’s wife is to blame. Let me explain. Carmen called to ask if I would like to come to their church to see a Christmas play with the stars being the children of the parish. The pastor of said church is her husband – a real doll (man doll, that is). So off I went when she came to pick me up.

The church is Suffolk Christian. I have been to Spain and Portugal where churches are every 10 feet apart and they strike you with their beauty and elegance. Yet I went into Carmen’s and Michael’s church and I was awestruck. I felt at ease and at home. The organ playing was such as you’d hear at Carnegie Hall and pay dearly for it. The parishioners greeted each other in a visiting way – so cheerful and happy. In today’s world it’s almost a forgotten thing. I loved it. Pastor Michael spoke. So adorable. God knew what He was doing when He chose him for the job.

Now comes the &uot;event.&uot; Carmen, wife to Michael (lucky him) had taught children of the parish a Christmas play and it was to be presented after the Sunday service. Proud parents seeing a future Katherine Hepburn (I go way back, you know) or perhaps a Mickey Rooney – the boys were small so no arguing I could have used a better example. Down the aisle they came. An innkeeper, a chef, three maids – all to be part of the inn with no vacancy.

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Now we add the best part – a cowboy and some animals for the manger. Did you say any sheep and shepherds? Whose story is this anyway? It’s Carmen’s and she had Mary, Joseph and the Child. Staff of the inn sang and danced. The congregation swayed with them. Couldn’t help themselves. Mary tripped hurrying to the Infant (no hard done.) Joseph played with his robe belt and the maids of the inn were swinging. Such joy! Such a sight – the whole congregation swaying.

Who says religion is solemn or even dignified? No such thing. All this I call holy fun talking to God. I’m sure He smiled when St. Peter wasn’t looking. He swung too.

Can’t finish without a mention of the animals – all the tiny kids of the parish. The Christ Child didn’t have them but I saw a lion, cow, giraffe, dog (an active one) and, oh yes, sheep. How they got in I’ll never know.

Who says religion is quiet and dull – not at this inn! Come visit any time – Suffolk Christian always has plenty of room.

Florence Arena is a resident of Hillcrest Retirement Center and a regular News-Herald columnist.