We’re due for sleet and snow and 50 mph winds today. I’m hoping to milk and do chores early and get down the mountain to my little church in the valley before the highway pass through the notch turns too frightening.
This fall I tried attending a church here in town, just for convenience. It’s half the distance, the service is at nine in the morning instead of ten, and I could combine the trip with picking up groceries afterward. But I’ve been going to the valley church for more than twenty years. (Someone recently dug up a photo of me in the congregational directory with Jon at age two.) Though I’m at home in almost any church, the town church is larger, darker, heavier, more ornate. I found I missed our New England spire, the small bright nave with its simple white walls and white-painted pews. I missed the smiling older faces in the enthusiastic choir (which sometimes is almost as big as the congregation). I decided convenience and the ability to multi-task shouldn’t really be the goals for church-going.
Besides, although in the services during the weeks of Advent we stick to the traditional Advent hymns (which are about longing for the advent of Christ’s birth, whereas Christmas carols are about the joy of his arrival), before the services, early birds can enjoy a half-hour of carol singing with the organ. It is lovely. Anyone can call out a number in the hymnal, the organ chords ring out, and everyone surges into song. More voices join in as latecomers arrive and slip out of their coats. It is impossible to stop smiling — along with, for me, the occasional tear.
Glo-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ria … in … ex-cel-sis … de-e-o!