The Fourth Sunday of Advent A.D. 2008 turned into quite some day. In many ways!
It all commenced when fellow ECC(DC) choir member Steve Walls picked me up at Mercury Courts on a bright, sunny, crisply cold early morning. We choir members arrived at the church early in order to practice for our "Choir Christmas Festival", so called in the church newsletter. Due to my work schedule I hadn't been at the two previous rehearsals, and so was unfamiliar with a couple of the half dozen or so pieces we'd be singing. I was most uncomfortable with the Bach's beautiful "Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light" with which we would commence, on the steps to the chancel before moving up into our pews. But Choir Director Julie Duemler worked out a solution so that I didn't have to sing that one, which I feared botching -- and I sure don't ever want to botch a Bach or the first song the Choir sings!
The musical worship service - or "Choir Christmas Festival" - turned out wonderfully! And worshipfully! Brief narratives set the stage and tone for each piece we sang (except the first two opening pieces). The children also had a part, and did their songs charmingly. For the offertory (passing the plates for the offering) Stuart Duncan and a musician buddy of his did an instrumental, he on fiddle and the friend on mandolin. Beautiful bluegrass praise! Truly we had quite melodious worship all thru'out at Eastwood Christian!
The hymn for communion was unfamiliar to me, but that didn't matter. The focus of the Lord's Supper, or Communion, is Jesus the Christ and remembering what He did for us in giving His body and lifeblood on Golgotha's cross. When you get down to it, not even the bread and cup (nor the table itself) should distract from such deep meaning as the Nazarene imparts to them!
Following Worship we adjourned to the Fellowship Hall for a Christmas dinner, complete with Christmastime desserts. And a visit from Santa for the young'uns. ECC(DC) has plenty of young'uns for the jolly fellow to meet!
But I was more interested in the opportunity to heap my plate with food and then sit down at table with Stuart and Dieta Duncan. The better I've gotten acquainted with this couple and the more I've experienced Stuart's artistry with the fiddle (and other instruments), the more I've wanted to know them even better! This was especially true after the previous Thursday's "Behold the Lamb of God" concert at the Ryman (see my post of 19 December).
I don't know, I sure hope that with all my questions I didn't come across as some wannabe "groupie" (or fan club applicant) for Stuart! But well, the guy IS very blessed with God-given musical talent! and he's recorded or performed with such personal favorites of mine as Rhonda Vincent and George Strait. And Stuart has a gentle and forebearing spirit that puts me at ease. When you get to the nitty-gritty he's simply an "ordinary Joe", a fellow church member that happens to be heavily involved in Nashville's great music industry as an artist. And I appreciate all of this about Stuart.
Well, once "Santa" had done his thing and the dinner had broken up Steve Walls gave me a ride to Music City Central. I watched a little of the NFL Titans game on the TV in the waiting room. They were hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers just across the Cumberland River, in LP Field (formerly Adelphia Coliseum, a much more melodious name and more appropriate for a city known also as "The Athens of the South"). Then I got on board a bus and rode around western Nashville. Back at the MCC waiting room I reveled in the ending of the Titans' game. Our "hometown heroes" handily beat the Steelers 31-14 to not only salt away the regular season divisional championship but also the "ho-ho-home field advantage" as one fan's handmade poster read.
Several minutes following the game's ending my bus pulled out of MCC and headed south on Fourth Avenue. Past Ryman Auditorium and Broadway and approaching the new Schermerhorne Symphony Hall one can look left at the former Shelby Street bridge. Now a strictly pedestrian causeway, this bridge is a major route for game-goers to return to cars parked west of the Cumberland. All the way from MCC the sidewalks had been crowded with folk leaving the stadium. And when I looked left at that now pedestrian bridge, it was still teeming with humanity. Most folks were garbed in colors of the Titans (dark blue, light blue/grey, a little red). But I also observed plenty of apparel in the Steelers' black and yellow (gold). The Pennsylvania team certainly had a goodly share of supporters travel to this game. And they must have felt right "at home" in the frigid weather Nashville's suffering these days. It barely got above freezing today, and I sure was glad to not have been in LP Field!
You know, dear reader, such weather -- bright sunny yet crisp -- might just have been the appropriate climate for this memorable Fourth Sunday of Advent!