Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Eve Service - Five Degrees Below Zero in the Sanctuary - Ice Storm

Next conversation is with the insurance company
Our congregation has a very traditional approach to Christmas Eve. With the slight variation of the Christmas carols, the comfort of Christmas consists of about eight carols, the Bible readings and three short stories about people celebrating the coming of the Holy One. The last story is the same every year.

300,000 homes, or about 650,000 persons lost power during the ice storm, the worst ever to hit Toronto. Where we live was hit very hard. At 2:30 in the morning the sound was like that of a war - except branches were coming down, unable to hold up under the weight of the ice.

Christmas 2013 will always be remembered for this
The next day, under a deep blue sky, each tree shone as it was alive, covered with crystal glass - but it was dangerous ice. Close to our home, one family lost two cars with a tree fell down (only one car shown in the photo.

On another street, a huge branch of a tree came crashing down on the house and the car. Whole sections of the area we live in were affected for days. Temperatures kept dropping in homes. Stores were shut down and police stations also affected, as were fire stations.

The street beside our church building looked as if a war had happened there. Cars were smashed by falling limbs and today, right now, a full seven days later, the light is still not back on for these neighbors

Every tree shone with ice covers
By Christmas eve, 90 hours later, our church building, shown in the last picture, was five degrees BELOW zero. When the congregation sang the carols, each person could see their breath as a little vapor cloud. Everyone left their jackets on. No power point - no colored lights on a Christmas tree. The musicians hands were so cold that an occasional odd note sounded out. The bass player found he couldn't always curl his fingers around the strings.

But the precious truths were told and retold. Yes, it's a very traditional service - and those  three stories - the first two being new to the congregation and the last story is always the same one. Of course, the Bible readings never change.

Our pastor said, "I never cancel a service. I didn't know the auditorium would be packed out tonight."

A congregation is so much more than a building
Within the little community church we call our home, - our friends, humble men and women of God, their teens and their children - there's a re-awakened spirit. One - It was on a dark night that the angels first appeared.

Two - like us, there are thousands of congregations that meet in the dark around the world, in places where they are "under-ground" because "men love the darkness more than the light".

Three - Innumerable stories of goodwill and charity are pouring out across the city - when was there ever a Christmas in which so many neighbors reached out to one another for days with hot soup, helping with children, looking in on shut-ins. The talk of strangers at the grocery store, "How many hours were you in the dark before the Hydro crew restored your electricity?" is one of a common experience - living in very cold homes for endless hours.

And the greatest lesson of all? That our Lord Jesus Christ came into the darkness to bring his light - the Light of Life.  

1 comment:

  1. Well said. In times that are hard, people pull together and help each other. We take so much for granted including God's love & protection & the freedom to even congregate in simple fashion.