Some of you may have noted, if you've read my blurb "about me" in my profile, that I'm married to the pastor of one of the small country churches, here, in town. It's true! =] It sounds rather idyllic, doesn't it? but, there's been no sleepy or simple rural existence for us - especially, this year! (Actually, I think that 'the uneventful life' might just be a myth). This year, our church community has, literally, been through fire and water! The water I refer to is, of course, Hurricane Irene which really did cause some tremendous damage to our town and the outlying areas. The fire was set in our 'prayer closet' by some unknown individual on a rainy day, last spring. (Not the kind of fire you want to start in a prayer closet, I mean!) It was, of course, a frightening thing but we barely had time to register the reality of it all as we were standing out in the dark, drizzly night by the light of the parade of firetrucks up and down Main Street, before we were told that they had caught the fire just in time. A moment later (and I mean seconds!!!) and the flames would have been fully ignited in the walls and attic where they would have been beyond the firemens' reach. I am - we all are - so grateful! SO grateful! The 'church' isn't made up of brick and wood and plaster - it's made up of people. However! We tend and love our little sanctuary - a beautiful historic building. It holds so many memories and, I should, also, mention,....it's super set up to worship in!!! ;) =]
Well, the building was spared but there was tremendous water and smoke damage. Our burgeoning church huddled (crammed ourselves) together cheerfully, on Sunday mornings, downstairs in the vestry, through the very warm summer months. In the meantime, the main sanctuary was undergoing the most thorough renovation and spring cleaning it's ever, ever received. Perhaps, a hop, skip and a jump down the road, we'll call it a wonderful blessing in disguise but, up close, well....it hasn't been a walk in the park - not bad - not easy. Anyway, Vermonters just love how adversity gives them a chance to really show what tough stuff they're made up of. They really shine! So, no trouble! ;)
What was totally eaten by the flames, though, (besides those tremendously ugly, pea green, moth eaten, dusty, old choir robes - "Hallelujah Chorus", anyone?) were all of our 'decorations'. Particularly missed were years and, even, decades of accumulated Christmas festiveness (and, I think that 'accumulated' is a good word, here.) We'd spent years finding quality things at good deals that needed to be replaced come Christmas time. ....and, yes, I spent a thousand dollars at Michael's Craft Store (after really, really shopping around - and that's with 50-75% off pre-Christmas shopping, too!) ...and, it turned out so beautifully - more beautifully than we had planned, which was an appreciated piece of serendipity, since we were at the mercy of what was available. We bought our ribbons, we bought our greens, we bought our silk flowers and shiny berries and put it together - problem solving with our resources all the way - and stood back and gasped! We couldn't have planned it any better!
It turned out to be a huge but fun project and the sanctuary was decorated just in time for the community choir's Christmas Concert. The church was absolutely packed! I got to sing a solo that was sheer joy and....we've built more memories together, of course, that no flood or fire will take away!
(Just a note as you look through the pictures: we are undergoing an organ transplant. It's been removed and is being cleaned and restored, to boot, in the process; so, there are usually brass pipes that line the front of the sanctuary, between the two trees. It should be mostly back by Easter. We just stretched some deep sky blue felt across and put an appropriately glowing "Bethlehem star" there to hide the mess. ;) Also, around the time of the winter solstice, something very special happens. The sun is at such a slant that, in the afternoon, the rose window glows in a spectacularly golden way that it doesn't do through the rest of the year. Some of those images are dark because I couldn't expose for both the dark room and the bright window. It's always a breath catching sight - especially, because it's usually discovered silently - when no one else is there.)
but, the church is made up of people.....decorated in festive Christmas red! (teehee!) ;)