After taking a mid-evening nap, I woke up and drove a few miles out for a candlelight service at one of the local churches. I don't think that I've really mentioned this here, but I haven't found a church community here where I feel like I fit in. There's so much history and tradition in this part of the country. However, that same chronicity also seems to have served as a dividing line. For example, there are over a dozen congregations of the same small sect of Protestantism that I belong to. I don't really even know what the differences are between many of these groups. I have floated around when my work schedule has allowed, and have found most of the churches that I have visited here to be pretty empty. It's not that it needs to be a large social club, but it would be nice to have some friends outside of work with similar beliefs.
Anyhow, the church I visited last night was full. The hymns were reassuring as was hearing the passages. Although I didn't go to the earlier family service, I was reminded of many Christmas programs that I had participated in as a child. Even after all this time, I couldn't help but snicker as we sang the second verse of "What Child is This":
Where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear: for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading.
I can still remember wearing a long-sleeved red velvet dress and having to sing with the other 8 year-olds in front of the church. My buddies Jay and Chad helped to increase the volume on the word "ass" and pointed at each other for the words "sinners here". I think that in the following years that the adult choir took over that song.
The service ended with the traditional lighting of candles from person to person. Just like always, the drip shields weren't quite adequate and I ended up with hot wax on my fingers during the last verse of "Silent Night". There are times when I question what exactly I am doing here as I frequently feel out of place, but last night's service was a reassurance that I am home.