The Christmas trees are up! In fact they seemed to go up in record time, but that is from the perspective of someone who arrived at 8:15 a.m. The trees were erect, fluffed, and lit by 10:35 on Thursday and while I don't remember them being ready quite so quickly, I am not sure how early David King and Stephen King got going on them. They may well have been there well before 7 a.m., because by the time I arrived the trees were completely assembled and stranding straight. Remarkable!
The success is attributable to the leadership of David and Stephen, but also to the many volunteers who arrive on the scene to give new meaning to my take on the old adage that 'many hands make lights work.' Some assemble while others fluff and still others unravel the strings of lights in preparation for putting them on the tree. It is a remarkable sight to see the unraveled lights stretching up and down the aisles as they await their opportunity to shine.
At one point I bent down to plug a new string into one already stretched out on the floor, but just as I tried to pick up the coupling it was gone and on its way down the aisle as fast as an anxious bride. By the time I caught it, the lights were on the tree waiting for the next link in the chain.
Some were on their knees to apply the lights while others stretched out from the fifth or sixth rung of a ladder. Thanks to our old friend Scott Kennedy and United Rentals, David and Stephen King were working on the tops of the twenty foot trees from the vantage point of a pair of scissor lifts. The same lifts were used later in the day to change the bulbs in the sanctuary lights.
One volunteer offered a prize for the child who on Sunday could correctly guess the number of lights on the two trees combined. The only trouble with the suggestion was that the lights were already half up and the task of counting the lights beyond us. My guess would be 18,000 to 20,000 lights.
When we are putting up the trees it is the church at its best. Everyone is working side by side to let the light shine. The truth is I see glimpses of that same light and life day after day. Sometimes it is a call from someone wondering about the health of a fellow member and sharing in a prayer. It is always there in the hospitality offered on Wednesday evenings at the Out of the Cold, but I see it evident in Bible study groups too when a group encourages a supports a member through a time of difficulty and challenge. The church is at its best when its focus is on getting the light to shine.
My prayer is that the trees and lights won't simply put the people who enter the Sanctuary into the right mood for the music of the season, but rather point us and all who pass by to the one tree, the cross of Christ, and to the light and life of God's love in the gift of his Son, Jesus Christ, whose birth we celebrate at Christmas.
By the way, there are a lot of special services and concerts in this Advent/Christmas season and I hope you will come, but also bring others so they too can share in the light and love of Christ.
Saturday December 7, CITY CAROL SING with CYNTHIA DALE, RH THOMSON, GORD MARTINEAU, TRUE NORTH BRASS, VIVA YOUTH SINGERS, LARKIN SINGERS, choirs of CHRIST CHURCH DEER PARK AND YORKMINSTER PARK.. An offering will be taken for the Churches On The Hill Food Bank and the event will be broadcast on CITY TV on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Sunday, Dec. 8, 11 a.m. WHITE GIFT SUNDAY
Sunday, Dec. 15, 4:30 CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT - YP choirs
Sunday, Dec. 22, 11 a.m. CHRISTMAS FAMILY SERVICE
Sunday Dec. 22, 4:30 p.m. FESTIVAL OF NINE LESSONS AND CAROLS
Tuesday, Dec. 24, 5 p.m. BETHLEHEM ON YONGE (animals & nativity characters and carols - Bundle up as a portion is in the park)
Tuesday, Dec. 24, 11 p.m. CHRISTMAS EVE CANDLELIGHTchoir
Wed. Dec. 25, 11 a.m. CHRISTMAS DAY COMMUNION
OTHER CHRISTMAS CONCERTS AT YORKMINSTER PARK
Wednesday Dec. 11, 7:30 p.m. Toronto Mendelssohn Choir with Ben Heppner present - FESTIVAL OF CAROLS - Tickets at http://www.tmchoir.org/
Saturday, Dec. 14, 7:30 p.m. - Amadeus Choir & Bach Children's Chorus present SING WITH THE ANGELS - Tickets at http://www.amadeuschoir.com/
Tuesday, Dec. 17, Orpheus Choir of Toronto and the Hannaford St. Silver Band present WELCOME CHRISTMAS - (I am honoured to be the guest narrator for a portion of the program.) Tickets at http://www.orpheuschoirtoronto.com/
Grace and Peace,
p.s. The warmest thanks to all who helped with the trees!