“Comfy Space” is a service at St. Philips on the second Sunday of each month that is designed for young children — from birth through third grade. It is affectionately referred to as “a service for those who wiggle in Church, and those who worship with them.” Each December the service honors St. Nicholas. The children (and some parents) leave their shoes outside the Children’s Chapel before they enter.
For the past three years, Joe Yukish, a St. Philips parishioner, arrives to tell a Christmas story and give some information about Saint Nicholas.
At the service on December 11, 2016, he told Lucy Wheelock’s story “The Legend of the Christmas Tree.” The story tells of some children sitting by a warm fire who heard a knock at their door, and found a barefooted child in tattered clothes. They welcomed the child into their home (after parental permission) and gave him their place by the fire, fed him, and gave him their warm bed. They slept on a hard bench. In the night they were awakened by sweet music played on golden harps by a band of children in shining garments. Their visitor rose from the bed, no longer tattered and cold, clad in beautiful garments and silvery light. He told them:
“I was cold and you took Me in. I was hungry, and you fed Me. I was tired, and you gave Me your bed. I am the Christ Child, wandering through the world to bring peace and happiness to all good children. As you have given to Me, so may this this tree, every year, give rich fruit to you.”
He broke a branch from the tree that grew near the door, planted it in the ground and disappeared. The branch grew into a tree, and every year it bore wonderful golden, orange fruit.
After finishing the story, St. Nicholas reminded the children that the lights outside and on the Christmas tree in their houses are not there just to be pretty and “Christmassy” (as one child suggested when they were asked, “Why do we have Christmas lights?”). St. Nicholas told them the lights remind us that Jesus is the light of the world, and if we do good things for others as the children in this story did, we too will shine brightly just like the children in this story.
Unfortunately, the children had to wait until the end of the service, when the Rev. Jean Rogers told them they were allowed to go outside to see if St. Nicholas had left anything for them.
And, they were off …