There have been lots of highlights already in Christmas events:
- I was invited to the School nativity plays, one done by primary 2 children and the other by the Nursery; both were brilliantly done, both told the story and both had songs in them that also told us what the story meant and who Jesus was and is; they were made for me by the King in the nursery event who left wearing his crown upside down, the innkeepeer turning his lamp upside down to see how it worked and Mary and Joseph putting the presents in the manger, suffocating Jesus under the weight of the gold!!!
- The Primary School Service was held in the Church last Friday - it was packed; there were no seats left with the number of parents and others who came to join us.
- Our Kids Church and Youth Group Nativity play on Sunday - "We were young once" was fantastic; we have a small number of children around on Sundays, but they were brilliant in all that they did. Equally brilliant was the fact that we had so many families in Church with young children; we even had two 2-year old boys running up and down the aisle during the service. That hasn't happened for a while; are we seeing a new generation of families coming to be part of our Church? We really hope so!
- Finally, on Sunday evening we had a very different event, our lessons and carols service. The Choir had 5 pieces to sing for us, as well as the usual list of readings and an odd sketch that lifted the lid on Christmas in a different way. The Choir sang beautifully; the power and harmony of their singing was a joy to hear, even for my untrained ear.
In the few weeks before Christmas, I sit down with my calendar and plan out all of the services, which carols we will sing, which readings we will have, so that there is some kind of balance across the whole season. I try to find themes for these services that will all reflect the nature of the event as well as something insightful to say. Jim Philip, once minister of Holyrood Abbey Church in the city used to say that it was much more important to find something true to say rather than to find something new; of course, he is absolutely right. Mind you, I love trying to find ways that are both new and true!
This morning, we were trying to imagine what it would be like for someone to hear these stories and readings for the first time, but we couldn't do it; these things have been so much part of our lives since we were young. Nonetheless, it is my prayer that there will be people hearing these things for the first time and that as they hear these stories, the God of whom the stories speak will be at work in their hearts and minds to persuade them of something true about Jesus.
The eternal God who stands at the beginning of history, who stands at the root of the universe, once came into our world to save us. Jesus came into our world to be the light of the world, to give us life in all its fullnes, to take away our sins and bring us to God. At Christmas we celebrate the coming of Jesus into the world. Don't lose sight of that truth today.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the new-born King,
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!’
Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies,
With the angelic host proclaim,
‘Christ is born in Bethlehem’.
Hark! the herald angels sing,
‘Glory to the new-born King.’