Worshipping with the Neighbors

Alice MillarCrowded into a pew with my neighbor, we raised our voices to sing “Oh Come Let us Adore Him” along with about 700 members of our local community at the annual “Festival of Lessons and Carols” at Northwestern University.  Definitely one of my favorite holiday traditions.   I love the music but even more, I love the chance to worship with so many neighbors at once.

So much better than any carols playing in the mall, we all listened as nine different times excerpts from Scripture, read by representatives from the congregation and university, told the story of the birth of Jesus.  Genesis, Isaiah, Zechariah, Matthew, Luke, John were all represented as well as a section from the Qur’an of the angel Gabriel saluting Mary.  Four times we stood and sang hymns together. Where else can you have that kind of community worship experience other than at Christmas?

Perhaps not everyone joined in saying the corporate “Our Father” at the start of the service but I loved hearing the familiar and resounding words in so many voices from my greater neighborhood.  The program listed the words but most of us seemed to already know them.

Just like at our church, a collection plate to support the ministry of the church passed from hand to hand and I gladly threw in my contribution.

We all stood as the closing strains of the postlude “Gloria in Excelsis Deo” filled our chapel like a cathedral and then the doors were flung open revealing the snow coming down.  There was a collective almost gasp of awe at the beautiful sight, like a postscript to the postlude.

My neighbor and I passed on the punch and cookie reception to walk to lunch and our conversation was all about the wonder of what we had just experienced.

Wish you could have been there! Maybe you were.

Hope for the best,



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