I've spent part of this morning preparing for our Vestry meeting, which mostly involves gathering up bits of paper with reminders to myself of things we need to cover.
It's been a busy weekend, starting last Friday with a drive up to Charm City to see the newborn baby of a parishioner; the baby is a beautiful boy named Barack. It was a longer drive than anticipated, and I was grateful for the company of a parishioner who kept me laughing all through the traffic jams. I got back in time to go a Christmas gathering of one of our Episcopal Church Women chapters.
On Saturday I participated in the ordination of a friend. Her journey to ministry was a long one, and it was good to see that she is now ready to use her gifts in priestly ministry. I was honored to be one of her presenters. Then PH and I hopped in the car and drove up to Your Nation's Capital to go on a tour of the White House, all magnificently decorated for the season. Two Christmas trees were particularly moving - one honoring Gold Star families (families of military who have died in combat) and another with many military medals hung on it. There was also a station where one could write a postcard to someone in the Armed Forces sending Christmas greetings. A sad reminder that our military folk are still in harm's way. May they be safe this season, and may there be peace soon. The decor was splendid in the WH, with a number of different renditions of Bo, the Obama family dog, and one of the most impressive gingerbread mansions I've ever seen - a rendition of the White House, covered in royal icing so it was truly white. Remarkable. After a good dinner with PH's brother (who works for the WH, thus the tickets to the tour) and sister-in-law, we got home in time to get a reasonable night's sleep.
Sunday was the Children's Pageant/Lessons and Carols/Eucharist mash-up. It was a different script than what we had used in the past, and it had a couple of less than smooth moments, but the children were wonderful and the music was great. Throughout Advent, the Bell Choir has been chiming us in for the processional, followed by the lighting of the Advent Wreath. It creates an exquisitely meditative moment at the start of the service as they play "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." They did it at this service as well, plus doing "Still, Still, Still" in the pageant. The Chancel Choir sang "Virgin Meek and Mild," our resident flutist played "What Child is This" and I sang "Rejoice Greatly" from Handel's Messiah. The congregation got to sing lots of their favorites, including "We Three Kings" with solos from PH and two of his colleagues in the choir.
All in all, a good morning, followed by our annual soup and bread lunch. Later that evening, another ECW chapter had their meeting and Christmas bash...much laughter and great plans for the year to come.
This morning we had the final session of our Monday book group for the year, finishing up Kate Braestrup's "Marriage and Other Acts of Charity." We are still pondering what our next book will be: I've given them a list of fiction and nonfiction options ranging from Graham Greene to Katharine Jefforts Schori. Such a great group of women in this group, and we even discuss the books in between our tangents!
This will be another busy week, with vestry meeting, other meetings, a number of pastoral calls, and a little fun in the midst. I am finishing up knitting one last Christmas present, and am otherwise as ready as I am going to be for the Christmas excitement. We've got a bunch of folks coming over for a party Sunday night, so I'll be doing midnight baking this week.
Color me grateful for so many things!