Christmas Eve – heartfelt gratitude

December 31, 2021


Beloveds (as Rev JaQuan Beachem has so lovingly called us),

Many, many thanks for everything you all contributed to make our church’s Christmas Eve worship service an experience full of love and beauty. The sharing of your time and talents and the treasure in your hearts is much appreciated.

The service went very smoothly with so many people helping out. We counted 22 participants (1 pastor, 1 videographer, 8 musicians, and 12 ushers (6 of them readers), and roughly 50 adults and 4 children in the congregation, making a total of 76 people. And the YouTube recording says it’s had over 160 views, and probably many of those were by family groups, so more than 160 people.

Not the crowd of 150 in the sanctuary and 30 in overflow that we anticipated and planned for, but better to have the plan in place than not. We thought we’d regretfully be turning people away at the door, so at least we didn’t have that sad task. I think the only effort that turned out not to be necessary after all was the setting up of the 2 overflow rooms. Everything else we did beforehand was as necessary for 76 people as it would have been for 180.

First and foremost, thank you to The Reverend JaQuan Beachem for your leadership as our minister during Advent and for our gorgeous Christmas Eve service. You did a wonderful job leading your first Christmas Eve service as an ordained minister. Having you with us has been a joy. Don’t be a stranger! We love you and can’t wait to see you again.

Our musicians headed by our Interim Minister of Music Tracy Wilson set the worshipful tone with sublime, awe-filled and joyful music. They say those who sing (and I think it applies to non-verbal music as well) pray twice! Our thanks and praise go to The Berkshire Brass and to violist Katya Rumin. Jack Brown, your solo singing was a highlight. “O Holy Night” brought chills and tears of joy with its dignified beauty.

Mary Jo Erikson Connor and bell choir, thank you for preparing to play for this service. Those of us in the building enjoyed hearing your rehearsal the night before. We’re sorry that you weren’t able to participate on the day due to covid complications, and we hope everyone is well.

Our ushers (Ted Randolph, Don Eaton, Holland Eaton, Diane Piraino, Ronnie Cunningham, Tom Randolph, Marion Pomeroy, Cindy Brown, Randy Johnson, Cathy Clark, Margaret Hornick, Drea Pecor) kept everything running well without a hitch. There was a lot of complicated “dancing” going on non-stop, with ushering congregants from the parking lot to their seats, taking the offering, lighting everyone’s candles, and ushering people back out the door. Ted, thank you for being the first face of welcome outside. Don and Holland, thank you for checking vaccination cards and IDs. Diane and Ronnie, thank you for making sure everyone got a bulletin and candle. Tom, Marion and Randy, thank you for seating everyone to maintain social distancing. Margaret and Drea, thank you for being in charge of monitoring the JE door and back door. Diane, nobody dims and relights the sanctuary better! I think you now have a lifetime job.

Thanks and gratitude to our Scripture readers (Cathy, Cindy, Tom, Ted, Ronnie, Don). Each one did a lovely job of reading our sacred story.

Diego Salinetti, thank you for all the complicated work of videorecording the service. You always make us look and sound fantastic!

Now for the behind the scenes preparations. Don, Ted, and Cindy, thank you for being “co-captains” of the ushers. What a triumvirate. They met several times to plan what needed to be done. Cindy planned out each usher’s assignments. Ted and Bronly Boyd spent hours shoveling around the church. Carl Bradford and Jim McMenamy put up all the pew candleholders. Ted and Cindy set up all the hundreds of loose candles. This included at least an hour of fixing the Christ candle and the pew candles with Ted’s trusty pocket knife. Ted set up outdoor lighting. Ted and Don set up the overflow rooms, including hooking up the live feed monitors. Cindy made sure the bulletins, handheld candles, children’s coloring books, ushers’ butane lighters, pitchers of water and fire extinguishers were in place, and raised the chandelier. And of course, the Diaconate under the direction of chairperson Donna Jacobs did a wonderful job of putting up the balcony garland and creating the windowsill hurricane lantern displays. Ted did the precarious job of putting up the organ wreath, and Cindy steamed the garland bows.

And let’s not forget the very center of the centrifugal force of our enterprise. Many, many thanks to Will Garrison, who, along with Pastor JaQuan, set the whole undertaking into spinning motion. Thank you, Will, for creating the complicated Christmas Eve bulletins, and for being the hub of a myriad communications. You are the one we all turn to and depend on for everything.

So, in case you missed it, this is a huge thank you to everyone who participated in preparing for and leading our Christmas Eve worship service!