Back when I was in North Carolina I worked with a deacon who held an Advent service in a local barn every Advent season, and I always thought it was the sweetest service. When I became the director at ECC I started dreaming about having one of our own. Admittedly it’s a little bit colder in Rhode Island in December, but we have this beautiful fireplace and a furnace that works just well enough to take the chill out of the air. So we went for it, and invited people to join us for a short, quiet service, and for soup and a tour of the house – full of Joyce’s Christmas decorations – after the service.
I had high hopes for the service, mostly because I had such fond memories of the one I took part in down south. By the time the fourth Sunday of Advent rolled around I was feeling pretty overwhelmed and exhausted by the holiday season. Advent is meant to be a quiet and reflective season of waiting for Christ’s coming, but for me it looked a lot more like a manic and crazy season trying to get ready for Christmas and an imminent move. By the time I got to the Advent service I was practically crawling from fatigue.
Then something incredible happened: the service was exactly what I had hoped it would be. I couldn’t believe it – that hardly ever happens. But it was beautiful and peaceful. The weather cooperated and it wasn’t too cold. Lance rigged up a beautiful hanging Advent wreath and the barn looked sweet with Christmas lights providing a soft glow. The fire roared in the fireplace. One of my staff gently played the guitar while we sang “O Come, O Come Emmanuel.” And then two of my other staff members sang “I Wonder as I Wander”.
I had asked Faith the day before if she could learn “I Wonder as I Wander” and sing it at the service. She has such a beautiful voice, and I knew it would be lovely. She agreed and I was looking forward to hearing her. The day of the service Kait showed up to help, and upon looking at her (and remembering what a lovely alto she is) I said “Hey Kait – maybe you could sing this song with Faith. It would make a nice duet.” An hour later they were ready, and I am sure there was not a dry eye in the house when they were singing. They took our breath away.
Lucky for you, one of the folks in the congregation had the wherewith-all to record the song. Hence this post, where I can share their lovely sound with you.
I hope you’ll enjoy hearing them. I hope even though Advent and Christmas are over that you might find a moment today of peace and quiet. I hope that you remember that Emmanuel means “God with us”, and even though the season has ended where we sing out “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”, we can still call out for God to be with us in every day, and in every season.
God be with you this day, and every day.