Inspiration for new posts has temporarily left me. Thankfully, Bob has posted this: The Night the Llama Peed in Church.
I find llamas funny in all cases, ever since I watched The Emperor’s New Groove. Combine that with this all-too familiar story of the well-intentioned but not always well-executed Christmas “pageant”, and Bob’s got a hit! 🙂
A small orchestra was even cobbled together for the occasion. Balky farm animals, fat guys in vaguely Roman-soldier-ish attire, and tuxedoed musicians surrounded the sacred space that was the altar. We in the congregation, our disbelief cheerfully suspended, each year tucked another Christmas Eve service under our belt, proud of our “realistic” show.
Anyway, as I say, there were sheep, a small pony, and a seriously recalcitrant llama. Year after year we watched this ritualized homage to 1st century squalor, heard the monotonous intoning of Isaiah 9, etc. And yet the single “moment” that dominates our memory of these times, Laurie’s and mine, was the year the llama peed on the floor. Yes, the stream was so steady, so extended, so vigorous and yet so non-chalant, and meanwhile all the actors so determined not to notice, even while the less disciplined children and adults in the audience/congregation sniggered with barely-restrained glee . . .
Well, it sticks in my memory. Afterward, some of the elders said, “Never again, no more animals in the sanctuary.” But the pastor, since it was all his idea from the first, argued that the urinating llama added verisimilitude. I don’t know about that. All I know is, all the other Christmas-eve services I’ve ever attended have blended together into one single tableau in my mind’s eye. There are it seems, in that picture, all the children I have ever known, some with cardboard wings on their backs, some dressed as Roman soldiers reading proclamations from clumsy scrolls, and others as Mary and Joseph, beaming over a cherubic baby-Jesus. The music of the orchestra swells, and then there is a brief dramatic pause before the final flourish, intended as a moment of reverent silence, but this time all we can hear is the loud drizzle of the llama’s indefatigable stream.
Thank you, Lord, for so memorably puncturing our seasonal pieties. My prayer this morning is that this Christmas, you do it again.