Holy Trinity attracted between 50 and 60 souls to our Advent carol service. There was one missing singer, marooned in the hinterland by high, snowy, impassable roads, with the attendant sudden feeling of exposure at the bottom of the harmony as one alto carried the burden alone, but things could have been worse (not for the marooned singer, I suppose - I'm glad she's safe and Facebooking)
I love Advent services. I love the darkness, the restraint, the fact that it's not Christmas yet. I think I always felt like this, even in my heathen days when I didn't really know about Advent. And today underlined something else in the makeup of that feeling. For today could so easily have been a disaster, or cancelled. As it was, it felt precarious, something that might blow out in an instant, like a candle. As the candles on the strange wooden candelabra dripped onto the peace angels hanging under them, as the sopranos' pew candle guttered low in some unseen draught, as the singers in the middle of the group struggled to read their words in the growing dark, there grew this sensation of something at once very human and utterly other, something like a frail glass bauble that could break if you held it too hard.
It was wonderful that it happened, wonderful to see people from outside our small congregation piling in as the snow fell outside, wonderful to see the work that had been done in all sorts of ways to provide candles, the tree, the fabby mulled wine. (I had three glasses: very warming).
Not perfect, but wonderful.