Long, wonderful day of singing and spirit!
I spent the morning at All Saints Anglican Church. When we lived here, I used to visit them a couple of times a year, but this is my first time back in a while.
All Saints is known as an 'outreach' church. For the most part, they are unable to fund themselves. They are supported by the larger Anglican community in Toronto. Needless to say, they can't afford much of a music program. When their priest, Jeannie, came to speak about their work at our home church, we got to talking, and that's how the relationship began.
Most people who attend All Saints wouldn't be welcomed at most churches. Let's be honest - we Christians like to say 'come just as you are', but we really prefer it if people are neat and clean and fairly well balanced before they sit beside us in the pew. I once met a woman at All Saints who told me she'd attended four churches before finding All Saints. The other churches had, in their own special ways, told her that she wasn't welcome. All Saints hugged her and loved her, and now she's there every Sunday. Why do we Christians mess that up so much?
It was great to be back there this morning, and see some of the positive changes that are happening there. There's a wonderful energy, several new faces in the pews, and lots of involvement from parishioners. As usual, the service was theologically and liturgically rich. I sang 2 songs in the service, and people were very appreciative. And as always happens at All Saints, I bring in my little offering, but I always walk away with so much more.
They always have a lunch after the service, but I had to run half a block west to get myself to Allan Gardens for the afternoon.
This is the fourth year we've sung for the Allan Gardens Christmas Flower Show. The 'show' goes on all month, but today was the opening. It is so stunning! Imagine walking from the cold, snowy streets of Toronto into 5 Victorian greenhouses filled with palm trees, water ponds, and exotic plants from around the world. It's beautiful any day of the year, but at Christmas, they fill it with every poinsettia imaginable, white mini-lights, special arrangements, and candlelight. So lovely!
Gerald, Monika, and I donned our Victorian Caroling gear and spent three hours singing our favourite Christmas carols. By the end, we'd seen old friends, met lots of happy children, had our photos taken by tourists and newspaper reporters, and had eaten more than our fair share of hot apple cider and Christmas cookies.
We've had a few gigs this past week, but somehow, this gig has become the 'official' start of our Christmas season!