Last night Carol and I joined a group from different Histon churches to sing Christmas carols in some village pubs. We both arrived on time to discover the first pub was quietly unsuspecting of any carolers only to realize we were in the wrong pub! Further along the road, the Red Lion was rocking with brass instruments leading the way with a loud (and surprisingly) tuneful group. Later on we moved further along to pack out the King Bill (where a group of us often enjoy chicken and chips on Wednesdays). The publicans Suzie and Mark provided mince pies and stollen for all and sundry as the singing hit the rafters.
What amazed me was the enthusiasm of all the pub-goers who even asked for an encore. Smiles were on all the faces as they lustily joined in. Apparently, the Histon grapevine had broadcast our presence beforehand and some people had come specially. Said the man, nursing his pint, seated next to where I was standing "I normally come on Wednesdays but I wanted to be here.' One of the publicans remarked, 'Thank you for bringing Christmas into here.' Who can tell what the good Lord stirred as we sung carols in an unlikely setting but we were glad it was not just Jesus stones (last post) that were about in the village.
And that was the other thing - I just wrote 'unlikely setting'. For me, brought up in a teetotal family the local pub was off-limits and publicans got a bad press in the New Testament too. Now, I recognize that alcohol can be abused and I respect my many teetotal friends. But I am glad to have shared joining in with so many pubgoers who may not normally be confronted by the Christmas story - even if it was through loud carol singing!