Today was a great day of singing.
This morning, I was the guest soloist at Fairlawn United Church. Last year, they started a monthly contemporary worship service. Like so many churches, they are trying to find new ways to worship and new ways to energize their time of praise. This service is done early in the morning, so that they can still have their traditional service at 10:30. To really emphasize the difference in the worship, this service is even done in a different part of the building. (I'm sure this is for technical reasons, but I saw it as very symbolic.)
We all met in the gym in the basement of the church. Chairs were arranged in a circle, with an undecorated Christmas tree in the middle. Coffee and juice were available for all the parishioners willing to brave the early morning. (Okay, it's only 9:00, but for some of us, that's early!) They have a screen set up for song lyrics, and they've assembled a great team to lead music. I believe it's mostly volunteers, and they are just awesome. It's a mix of kids and not-kids, singing and playing a variety of instruments. Their energy is wonderful.
My first song was Soon and Very Soon. I was accompanied by piano and djembe, and I played my tambourine. It was so much fun, and a great way to start the service. We were rocking out, and I invited everyone to sing on the last chorus and they all sang and clapped. Funny - when I was younger, I never would have invited people to sing along with me. Now, I just love it. Oh dear, am I maturing or something?
One of the young readers read a passage from Luke about the nativity and then I sang my own song, The Stable Bare. I was accompanied by piano and guitar and the whole thing was just how I like it - simple and quiet. Simple, and yet the energy during the song was powerful. After the last note, everyone was just silent. You could hear a pin drop. I feel so blessed that God has given me this simple little song to sing.
The service proceeded with the telling of the story of the Mitten Tree. At the end of the story, we all brought up mitts and hats to put on the tree, all of which will be delivered to needy families in the city. It sounds silly to say it, but I found the whole thing very emotional! I couldn't look at the tree covered with offerings without tearing up. And singing O Christmas Tree just about did me in!
After the service, the feedback was wonderful, but the thing that thrilled me most was the reaction to The Stable Bare. People genuinely loved it. I just felt so honoured at their reaction.
This afternoon, I had a bit of switch. It's the start of the Victorian Christmas Carolling season! I've been doing this for years, and last year, when I started Jarvis Muse Productions, I decided to start my own group. It's exactly what you think it is - we get all dressed up in costumes and walk around singing Christmas carols. And I have to tell you, I love it! I love the costumes. I love the music. I love singing with my friends. And mostly, I love seeing the reaction on people's faces when they hear us sing their favourite songs.
Today we sang at Allan Gardens, which is a tropical greenhouse in the middle of downtown Toronto. For three hours, we stood among the palm trees and sang in acapella harmony. I was especially proud today of our new costumes. After last year, I decided I wanted to have my own set of costumes, and, of course, I was really picky about how they looked. So, I made them! I'm not really a sewer, but for the last week, I've been hunched over a sewing machine stitching velvet skirts and thick red capes. And I have to say, they look awesome. (I don't sew much, so I totally feel it's okay to brag on this one!)
At the end of our last set, we talked with a family who'd been listening to us for the whole three hours. They were so happy that we'd been there to sing. The little girl asked us for our autograph. We all wished each other a Merry Christmas.
... That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.