Happy New Year!
So many wonderful gatherings and events take place at AUMC during the Christmas season, but I wanted to take a moment or two to reflect on our “Caroling Through the Community” event, which took place on December 22nd. In past years, I participated in the caroling and was always moved by it, and this year I had the distinct pleasure of helping plan it!
The office staff and I worked together to choose the carols, make the songbooks, and print flyers which we distributed to every house along the route–around 175 in total! We were stopped as we passed out the flyers several times, many folks letting us know that they were excited the event was happening again this year and that they’d be waiting for us to make our rounds. Thanks to some very generous volunteers, we had delicious chili to eat beforehand and sweet treats to enjoy when we returned to AUMC after caroling. We had some wonderful time to fellowship with one another, gathering around tables in the East Building to eat a meal together before setting out on our caroling adventure. Despite there being rain in the forecast, our brave carolers took to the streets of the community, umbrellas and raincoats in hand, to spread some much needed Christmas cheer.
With Pastor James leading the way and playing his guitar, we sang carols by candlelight and stopped to serenade those who came out of their houses to see us. Many people along the route were so glad to see our group and remembered us from previous years. At one house, the entire family came out to greet us–three generations gathered in their driveway to join in singing a few songs together. We discovered that the grandmother was a retired choir director who was suffering from Alzheimer’s, but in the short time we were with her, it was clear to us that her musical memory was still intact. It was extraordinarily moving to hear from the community how much they look forward to seeing the AUMC carolers each year.
After all of the cookies had been eaten and the hot cocoa thoroughly enjoyed, a smaller group of carolers went to Addie’s Cottage, an assisted living facility close to AUMC. Bob, the director, made us all feel so welcome with some more cookies and hot cocoa, and we took some time to sing carols with the residents and to socialize with them afterwards. It was an incredible experience to get to know the residents and the caring staff at Addie’s Cottage, and Bob even recruited a couple of his neighbors to join in the caroling and the fun! Even more incredible, though, was the moment when one of our group realized she recognized one of the residents at Addie’s Cottage. She explained to us that the resident was one of her closest friend’s mother, and they had a moment to reconnect and reminisce together. They spoke of fond memories, good times, and it was such an amazing Christmas surprise for them both.
I’m so grateful I was able to be a part of the caroling event this year, and so thankful to all of those at AUMC who volunteered their time and resources to make it happen. I learned this year more than in years past how meaningful this event is for our church community and our neighbors, and I am more proud than ever to be part of a group that seeks opportunities like this to reach out, serve, and invite with the love of Jesus Christ.
If you weren’t able to join in the caroling this year, stay tuned (in every sense of the word) for next year’s caroling event!
Please enjoy some photos from the evening.