The 4pm Christmas Eve service at the Church of the Holy City (Swedenborgian) was quite a success. Those who measure these things by attendence numbers wouldn’t agree — there were thirteen of us in the church — but I’ve been to Christmas services big and small. This one had legs, and there were so many things that worked that I wanted to celebrate the fact and commend the same to small churches that think “we can’t do it right.” Yes, you can. (And thanks to A.K. who planned and led the service.)
First, let’s consider the resources that were used well.
- The congregation. Even through we were few, six of us had speaking parts, one of the six sang a solo (see below) and a seventh played the piano.
- The chancel and its furniture. The church has a broad chancel with a large lecturn set in front of two low steps. By choosing which step from which to read from, readers of differing heights can use the lecturn without resorting to a hidden (read: obtrusive, noisy, and rickety) box. A second lecturn (from a closed church) was brought up and used by the worship leader, director-style. (See below.) The wineglass pulpit was not used.
- The baptismal font. It is in front of the chancel and is always covered. Since the beginning of Advent, it has been decorated with wreath and, tonight, a large white Christmas candle. The effect is very post-pagan well decorating, and it works. But a small pedestal would have worked had they not had the font.
- The acoustics. The church is a very “live” space, but adequate amplification would suffice in its place; Holy City has none (or uses none.)
- The light. Or rather, its absence. The lights were kept low, except at the lecturns, and the rows were punctuated with pew-end torches. This made the service seem less thinly attended.
- The inside porch, or the area between the front doors and the first pews. This is where the service ended. (See below.)
To be continued . . .