Ben and Beth were excited, but rather nervous. They didn't know anyone at all in this church (thus the nervousness) but it was a small church in the mountains, a situation which seemed much more comfortable to them then the big churches in the city they had tried so far (thus the excitement).
Their nervousness increased as they pedaled the last hundred feet towards the church. Going to a new church was always nerve racking, but before, with a big church at least you were just part of a crowd. The parking lot toward which they were slowly pedalling held, so far, 4 cars, and seemed as if it could only hold another 10 or so. A couple of kids standing on the church porch watched them with interest. Probably not many of the congregation biked to church.
(It was at times like this that Ben particuarly appreciated having a sister. Left to himself he probably would have just bicycled past, pretending he was out for a ride (in his Sunday clothes).)
They came to the front of the church and one of the children, a girl about 12 years old, came down.
"Hello. My name is Naomi, what's your name?"
"I'm Beth, and this is my twin brother Ben. (Beth, like Ben, liked to get the whole 'twin' thing out of the way right up front.)"
"Welcome to Laurel Ridge Mennonite Church. I don't think I've seen you before?"
Ben certainly hadn't seen her before, at least, not dressed like this. She looked like a picture out of some book. She wore a long grey dress, plain except for a white tie around the waist. And she wore some white, cloth thing on her head. Was this how Mennonites dressed?
He looked up at the porch while the girls talked (girls could always talk, it seemed). The boy, probably about 8 years old, was dressed in blue pants and a white shirt... formal but hardly odd. He seemed rather taken aback by Bens presence, and Ben didn't want to push it. A corner of his mind caught the girls conversation...
"Oh, no, you're quite welcome to visit. We welcome visitors. We don't get many. We aren't like the churches in the big cities. Where do you live.."
While Beth was relating their address, the trip they had taken to get here, and various details of their house etc., another car pulled into the driveway. A large, white van, Ben watched as children piled out of it. None seeming older than 12, there were eight of them! Each dressed almost identical to the two he had already met.
He looked down at his shirt and blazer. Each church they had gone to had had their own dress code. At the presbetyrian church he had been too well dressed, and the Baptist church too poorly, and now he was just... different.
He sighed. Somehow they got through dozens more introductions on the porch and eventually everyone went inside. He loved the inside of the church, it reminded him of camp. Everything was wood, and echoed. He was sure that singing would sound wonderfully here.
He was surprised tho, that the church wasn't decorated. The other two churches they had visited, along with practically every house and store in town, were already festooned with decorations. Garlands and bells and and ornaments had been hung from every window, aisle, or other excuse.
Yet this church was bare. At any other time he wouldn't have noticed. He turned to the boy sitting next to him, who had invited them to come and sit with his (large) family, and whispered.
"Where is the Christmas tree, and other stuff?"
"Oh. We don't have them. We don't do that." The boy replied.
"But, why not?"
The boy turned and stared at him, and shrugged his shoulders, "Why would we? What do decorated pine trees have to do with Christ being born?"
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