Advent Vespers

We have not been allowed to go to church for nine months, until today. My church just started doing outdoor, socially distant advent vesper services. We had to sign up in advance to keep the numbers down. Russ had work and was not going to make it so I invited Lynn to take his spot.

We were asked to arrive fifteen minutes early to sign in for Covid protocol. I was early, but was probably the last to arrive. It was obvious that the small group was anxious to get to see other congregants. Chairs were set up in the courtyard in family group sizes, of four, two or one far apart from each other.

We had a fire pit, but most people brought blankets. Sadly neither Lynn, nor I did that. We had live music from some friends of our youth pastor Alex. It was nice to be with people, even though we all had masks and were far apart.

At the appointed time Chris, our Pastor, stood at a microphone and welcomed us, gave us the instructions not to sing and told us how these vespers would work. The last time I had gone to vespers was when I was a camp counselor at Camp Idlepines in New Hampshire. It was summer and later in the evening as the sun did not set until nine. Tonight we sat in the waining light at five and the cold descended upon us. Chris read us the advent lesson, we had questions to ponder, music to listen to and prayers to say.

After the service we were asked to be filmed in our “family” groups passing the light from candle to candle like we do on Christmas Eve, so the film can be used in our Video service that night. Lynn and I stood side by side in our masks and passed the light from one candle to another lifting our candles high as we always do on Christmas Eve. The woman filming us asked if we were related and in unison we immediately answered, “Yes.” When you share Christmas Eve together every year you are family. We didn’t need to explain how we were related, but we are.

Sadly, due to the restrictions on numbers, that was the only Advent Vespers I can attend. It was a moment of normality, although we have never done vespers at Westminster before. Just seeing familiar eyes and being together was moment of hope and happiness. Just like Advent.

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