Well, I think I'm ready. I reintroduced myself at church today and to many of my unknown neighbors, the least I think they're neighbors- haven't really ever seen any of them before, but maybe I will.
I was very lucky to pick the fourth Sunday of Advent, because in addition to the regular service there was also the lighting of the Advent wreath, a baptism and a blessing for a civil union. Made for quite a morning of celebrating. Had I known, there was also a funeral yesterday, and it could've been a trifecta of sacraments.
I have attended this church before, when it was newly opened in there were only a handful of families present. It has grown some since my first visit, but it is still quite small and casual-very casual. I arrived about 10 minutes early and found a seat so that I could re-acquaint myself with their service. (That's when I discovered that we were having a * Mongo* service.) Most of the parishioners were standing about in small groups visiting and drinking coffee as several small children ran about starstruck with the beautiful decorations and wanting to touch them all.
The pastor and the deacon were walking about greeting people and rearranging materials around the altar. The choir was milling about, and the two clarinet soloist were tuning up.
Finally, a bit after 10 a.m. the pastor got up said good morning and explained that the first hymn was one of his favorites and was written by one of the Wesley Brothers, who reportedly had started the Methodist Church, but were in fact, both Anglican priests. Anyway he wanted the pianist to play it through once so we could hear the tune and be prepared to "belt it out" with verve. And I'm sure that might have been very effective, if the tune had not been so difficult and if we had had more than 25 or 30 people singing it.
Long story short, we sang, we prayed, Annika got baptized, and her parents had their union blessed. Amen. One hour and 44 minutes. Amen. It's a nice community, humorous pastor and its 3 miles from my house. Now feeling filled with the Holy Spirit I went on to the grocery store to get a cheese ball and eggnog and... voilà... I'm all ready for Christmas.
One parting note, I saw this picture this morning and couldn't resist including it. For all of us who read tabloids and crap magazines and follow the lurid stories of beautiful people. Here's a photo to remind us what the world would look like if we each had the ability to use an airbrush...or if the beautiful ones-did not.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
and God bless us, everyone.