After flying in to New York City, taking a taxi to C25’s apartment, having dinner at Frank’s, regrouping at the apartment, going out for a Guinness at the 11th Street bar where Irish musicians often gather (but not on Christmas eve), where the bartender shook our hands and greeted C25 warmly, we again regrouped at the apartment, picking up D16, and then trouped up the street to Grace Church for their Christmas Eve Midnight Eucharist. This photo from their website gives a slight idea of the nighttime beauty there–minus the greenery and poinsettias, and not giving an adequate sense of the amazing vaulted space above our heads.
As we arrived, the organ was thundering. An usher took us to our own box pew along the left aisle. I can only tell you it was all my heart could desire in a Christmas eve worship service. It was also the most “high church” worship experience I’ve ever had and some elements were quite new to me. Since I’ve been learning about liturgical worship I knew about some of the practices but I can only imagine how odd they must have seemed to D16! To me, it was reverent and joyous, and a rich sensory experience for eyes, ears, heart and mind. Even though it was quite different, it also connected me by way of memory to Christmas eve services of the past–one connecting strand was the singing of Silent Night by candlelight. It was wonderful to share this worship experience with my family.
As we came out into the cold night air sometime past midnight, the church’s bells were pealing in loud, crazy tones of celebration, and did not let up–it went on and on. We heard them all the way back to the apartment. It was a wonderful thing to hear them pour out, sharing the celebration with the city.