As I was waiting to begin the entrance procession for the 4:00 pm Mass yesterday, with people streaming into church, a little girl of about two or three entered the vestibule with her dad and very excitedly kept saying "We won!" "We won!" "We won!" I asked her "What did you win?" but she just looked at me puzzled and did not answer. A few moments later her mom and older brother entered the vestibule together, and then she opened up - "I beat my brother to church!" I laughed.
As I began Mass I remembered the Collect Prayer of the new translation for the First Sunday of Advent which states "Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ ..." I love the image of "running to meet Christ". And here was this sister and brother "running to meet Christ" as they came to Church for Mass. What a wonderful reminder, on the last Sunday of Advent, of what we prayed for on that First Sunday.
I mentioned this moment to the people gathered and shared the joy of the little girl at being first ... but also commented that her brother was the gentleman who waited with mom (thus saving his pride).
Our small but dedicated crew decorated the church today following the last Mass, and it looks beautiful. The flowers arrive tomorrow, the manger will be set in place, I pick up the apples tomorrow (we gift each child with a red delicious apple at the Christmas Masses), and all will be ready for God's People to celebrate the Nativity of Our Lord. To all who have and continue to prepare for Christmas, many thanks!