My church has been decked out in its Christmas finest for ten days now (Lords a’leaping, for those of you keeping track.) Inevitably, we must face the bitter truth that our overworked altar guild cannot continue to care for so many needy poinsettias, and although Epiphany is still three days away, enough is enough. So today, we asked people to steal them after the last morning worship service. OK, we were not quite that bald faced about it. I believe we couched the invitation in more correct Episcopalianese: something about the poinsettias “needing a good home” and “moving out into the community in the Spirit of the season.” One could almost hear the strains of “Born Free” playing in the background during the announcement.
Now, there is always a titter of excitement that runs through the congregation when our annual sanctioned theft of the poinsettias is announced. We are Episcopalians, so we certainly can not rush up the moment after the dismissal of “Thanks be to God!” We take it slowly. Some parishioners kind of walk stealthily around the poinsettias as though choosing just the right one. Many will have already scoped out their favorite during the announcements and go through an elaborate dance of socializing while moving steadily toward their target, keeping a sharp eye out for interlopers who would carry off their leafy prize. Some of the plants will go to private homes; some to hospitals. Every Christmas we somehow manage to farm out our Yuletide shrubbery within a couple weeks, and the altar guild breathes a collective sigh of relief.