We started the morning as the music leaders for St. John's West. This church was one of the first to welcome me and my music when I decided to go "all-Gospel, all-the-time", and they are always the first to invite us to visit whenever we return home. We haven't been there since last spring, so it was a real homecoming today - lots of hugs, lots of hellos, lots of how's-it-goings.
It's always my job to choose the music for these Sundays. I usually try to choose songs that fit in closely with the Bible readings and the preaching, but today, we mostly just sang great Christmas carols and hymns. We did "Coventry Carol" for the Gospel processional (today is the Slaying of the Innocents), and Gerald lead us on the djembe. We also used djembe for "Twas in the Moon of Wintertime", and people played along on the shakers and drums I'd put in the pews. Our anthem was our duet version of "My Heart is the Manger", which is quickly becoming our signature Christmas song.
We did have a postlude planned, but there was so much chatting and visiting to be done, that the music had to take a rest. People were very interested in our life in Nashville and new CD, and it was great to hear about the church's recent pageant and other community efforts.
We had very little turnaround time for our afternoon service. Billings Court Manor is a seniors residence with a vibrant Christian community. Their weekly non-denominational service brings out 50-70 people, including residents and families. They had a volunteer to play piano for the hymns, so we were brought in for special music. We had several duets planned, but by midday, Gerald's throat started to give out on him, so we did some last minute switching around.
We did "Welcome to Bethlehem", with dueling guitars and me on vocals. Gerald played djembe and I sang "Twas in the Moon", and we did the duet of "My Heart is the Manger", with Gerald relying heavily on the mic for his solo verse.
The whole service was light and wonderful. Staff members read the lessons, and the entire congregation sang out on the hymns. After the final prayer, tea and sweets encouraged chatting and fellowship.
But my fellow was looking worse for wear. We've been surrounded by Christmas colds, and now Gerald seems to be getting his. We had plans to go out tonight, but we had to cancel them. The whole night became about warm blankets and cups of tea.
It's been snowing just the tiniest and prettiest bit tonight. Just before coming to write, I looked out the front window. This house faces directly onto a cross-street. The entire neighbourhood is quiet and white. No cars have driven through the fresh snow, so even the street is a perfect sheet of white. I can't imagine Christmas any other way. I'm starting to feel the urge to go back to Nashville, but I'm so glad we were here for all this.