We arrived in Rimbey September 1988, just three months before the Christmas season. This is a magic time of year and we wanted to make it very special. In our first Christmas in Rimbey we decided to go carolling. Stuart Lister had a team of draft horses and a hay rack that he used to transport us through the town as we sang the beautiful carols. We stopped at the home of George and Irene Hunter who came out to their front step to hear and join us in singing. They would have had us stay for the entire evening.
It seems to me that Murphy of Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong will) was often an uninvited guest at our Christmas Sunday school programs. Our son Tim was often at the center of these encounters with Murphy. One year after our final rehearsal he decided to scare his sister and her friend Sherilyn. After rehearsal we went out for lunch with Sherilyn’s family. She rode with us, and Tim pulled his coat up over his head. He pulled the zipper up and told the girls that he was headless. As Tim had hoped they began to scream and one of them grabbed his zipper and pulled it down. This was where Murphy stepped in. Instead of smoothly going down and exposing Tim’s head, it caught a piece of his eyelid and wouldn’t let go. Try as we might we couldn’t separate the zipper from Tim’s eyelid. Finally, we took him to the emergency room at the Rimbey hospital.
Here we were in the ER with the nurses and doctors not knowing anymore than we did of how to free Tim from his zipper. Stuck inside his coat, he started to hyperventilate and one of the nurses cut the seam and gave him some fresh air. Soon every one of the medical staff on duty came over to offer their opinions. One suggested that they might have to cut his eyelid to free him. Finally, one doctor got a Q-tip and some Vaseline and slowly worked the zipper off Tim’s eyelid. Left with a small mark, Tim was able to take his role in the Christmas pageant.
That wasn’t Tim’s last meeting with the famed Murphy at Christmas. Remembering that Christmas was Jesus’ birthday we decided to have a birthday party in His honour as our pageant one year. What do you have at birthday parties? How about balloons? And not just any ordinary balloons. They had to be filled with helium. You know that if you inhale helium, it changes your voice? I don’t know how it happens, but your voice goes up a few octaves and you sound like Mickey Mouse. It’s really weird but also kind of cool. So how did Tim and Murphy get together that Christmas? Tim wasn’t satisfied just to inhale a mouthful of helium and say a few words in his Mickey Mouse voice. Oh no, not Tim. He blew out all the air from his lungs, took a balloon and sucked in as much helium as his lungs could hold. Starved of oxygen, his lips turned blue, and he passed out and hit the floor. He revived quickly and the pageant went on as scheduled.
One year we decided to have a living nativity in the church. At the back of the sanctuary, we set some plastic sheeting on the floor and made a small enclosure for some sheep with bales. Some straw bedding was put over the plastic and the church was filled with the smell of the sheep and the fresh straw. Then Murphy made another appearance.
We had Joseph and Mary come into the sanctuary with Mary on the back of a live donkey. A strip of carpeting was unrolled for the donkey to walk on as he carried his precious cargo to the front of the church. And that’s when Murphy struck. Nature called and the donkey made a deposit on the strip of carpet. Murphy was kind to us, and the deposit was solid and easily picked up.
A pastor of mine once said that Christmas was the time of year that miracles were most likely to happen. Every time we have had a Christmas pageant, even those years that Murphy made an appearance, we experienced a little of the Christmas magic. Christmas is the time of year that miracles are most likely to happen and making it easier to keep the Son in our eyes.