Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Eve High Mass

I am glad I fought my demon couch with curses and crosses, struggling terribly to leave it's seductive lethargy, to dress in street clothes and tally forth into the freezing foggy slippery street night of Christmas Eve, my Ford Truck Ranger cold and unforgiving to be woken for task in the pitch darkness.

I am glad I dragged my sorry ass into St. James Anglican Church Vancouver and took a seat at the back, Scrooging. I didn't feel too Christmas Evey. In fact I've been exhausted by the overwhelming task of just getting time off from the relentlessness of work.

Where is there God in this tedium of a world gone mad with shortages and greed. I wasn't a bundle of bouncing baby joy sitting looking at the congregation of idiots who like me had left the safety and isolation of their known homes in the chill of night for this mystery of mysteries.

The St.James High Mass Choir featuring Ruth Greenaway-Robbins, Nubia Martens, Dallas Bittle, Mathew McTavish and Vicki Nelmes with organist Gerald Harder sang and played an amazingly uplifting selection from Bach and Handel ending with the delightfully whimsical English Traditional Sussex Carol. The procession began with pageantry and incense. I felt transported back hundreds of years and thought I could well have been in Old England or even Christian Rome as the traditional service began. This Christmas story was at the very heart of the world I knew and the person I was becoming.

Somewhere in the middle of the rising and falling voices of the Nicene Creed or Lord's Prayer I felt a hint of gratitude. Soon I was even smiling when a friend came in and sat beside me. The sermon by Mother Jessica Schaap was particularly poignant in bringing me out of myself to contemplating the earth and heaven shaking event of the birth of Jesus. She spoke of the waiting of Advent and as a woman likened the world event to a mother's birth experience. There was joy there. Tears and joy.

Then there was communion, the kneeling and connecting. Then I was leaving, almost Catholic in my early departure,unwilling to wait for the closing rites. Rushing back into the night but thankful to have again been a part of the ritual celebration and reminder of the birth of Jesus Christ.

I liked the deep resonance of the great old church bells. I liked the bell ringer heftily hauling on the long white rope. In the distance I'd heard a siren and thought how special it was that all over the world churches were ringing bells at midnight and that sirens were drowned out by the celebration of Christ's birth.

Merry Christmas. Peace on Earth. Good will to All Men.

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