A Christmas Story
By Rev. Carl Scovil
Kings Chapel -- Boston
The Rev. Carl Scovil – who was the long-time and much beloved minister of King’s Chapel in Boston – tells a true holiday story that happened (at King’s Chapel) when his two young daughters were growing up.
I grew up in a house without central hating, and I have always felt that a COOL house is a HEALTHY house…impervious to colds and conductive to the flow of blood. My daughters do not share that sentiment, and at times become articulate upon the point. One Christmas, when I refused to turn up the heart sufficiently high for them, the youngest daughter proclaimed:
“Behold, a decree went out from Carl Augustus that all the world shall be frozen, and each went to her own room to be frozen.” “Nonsense,” I replied, “You’re much better off here than if you were living in China or Russia.” I don’t recall her precise response, but she intimated that my argument was moot. Something in her tone of voice suggested that the matter was not settled.
That Christmas Eve, when we held our traditional services of song and scripture at King’s Chapel, we added a small new feature.
On the old communion table we placed a crèche – terra cotta figures of Mary, Joseph, the child, shepherds, sheep and kings as well. We had never had a crèche in King’s Chapel before, and I felt if we were to introduce one, the muted colors of these terra cotta figures might alleviate any Puritan objections.
Well, there were no objections. We went through the family service at 4:00 PM and the Holy Communion at 5:00 PM, and the big carol service at 10 PM, and I heard nothing but words of appreciation.
But after the late service was over and after I had finished greeting the crowd, our sexton spoke to me and said, “I think you’d better come down to the front of the church.” “What’s the matter Tom?” I asked. “One of the pieces of the crèche has been stolen” he said to me. “Which one?” I asked. “Well, it’s Jesus,” he answered. “Oh Lord,” I thought, “The first time we put the crèche out and someone takes a piece.” As we walked down the aisle of the church I couldn’t help wondering who would take such a piece. A drunk? An objector? A prankster?
We got to the chancel and looked at the crèche, and sure enough the baby was gone from the cradle. Then I saw that someone had placed a piece of paper under the cradle. I drew it out and found the following message printed neatly in pencil. “WE’VE GOT JESUS! TURN THE HEAT UP 8 DEGREES AT THE PARSONAGE AND WE’LL RETURN HIM FOR THE MORNING SERVICE.”
Well…the heat went up at the parsonage, the infant reappeared, and everything was returned to normal. Well, not quite. The Benevolent Despot of the Beacon Street Parsonage (that would be me!) sits a bit less certainly upon his throne. That is not surprising. No monarch, indeed no despot, can ever be so sure of his rule after a child has been born.