From time to time last year, my son Pete had been assisting with a little Sunday evening church service. Last night, he took us to the service to sing Christmas carols.
It was a twenty minute drive from our house to the country. We drove through the little town of Templeton, turned right off Main South Road, and went up Kirk Road, to The Chapel of the Holy Family. Sounds Catholic, I thought. Apparently, it's Presbyterian. It had a modern logo that looked to me like two lungs, a sternum, and a couple kidneys. Anyway, the Chapel was a small place off a small contry road, on the south island of a very small country at the bottom of the world.
In the parking lot, a woman was helping people in wheelchairs get out of a van. Inside, almost everyone was handicapped in some way, mainly intellectual disabilities. It dawned on me that this service was for handicapped people. Well, that was okay. Marilyn's spent a lot of time with people with disabilities, and she greeted some of them. I think there were thirty or forty people there.
A man named Allen lead the service. An older lady sat ready at an electric piano. After a few words from Allen, we began singing. I think the first song was "Oh Christmas Tree" . In between songs, Allen said some words. "What's the important part of Christmas?" The singing was uneven, with quite a few random noises and motions from the congregation. Peter, tall and beautiful, ran the PowerPoint slides.
I haven't been into church much of late, but for some reason, I found myself at ease. And with each passing song, I was having more fun.
After 35 minutes or so, Allen indicated that it was going to end. This was way too soon! Someone asked for "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer," so we did that. Then I asked for "Joy to the World," and we sang that. And for a few moments, the place became a King's front hall filled with a majestic choir.
Then it was over. The congregation slowly trickled out, a few with assistance, to get a piece of Christmas cake and a chocolate truffle (with rum essence) in the foyer. I asked Pete whether this was the same audience he had been serving all year, and he said yes.
I shook Allen's hand, and thanked him for the nicest caroling I'd done in at least a dozen years.
Here's the place on Google Maps.
To give you a sense of what the music felt like, try this: