Lessons in Carols – Come Allow the Music of Christmas to Touch Your Heart
“ Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:1-2
I want to take a minute to thank everyone for his or her participation in last Sunday’s worship service. I especially want to thank the choir, the children who sang, the musicians who played as well as all of the church staff involved in making Sunday a special day.
Music is an important part of our lives. It defines us, shapes us and most often expresses things that we feel or want to say. Music has a way of taking us back in memory, forward in hope or deeper into the present moment. It is important to us, and is one of the few things that all human beings share.
Rowan Williams, the Arch Bishop of Canterbury, reflecting on the role of music in the spiritual life wrote, “To listen seriously to music and to perform it are among our most potent ways of learning what it is to live with and before God, learning a service that is a perfect freedom. No one and nothing can compel our contemplation, except the object in its own right. In this ‘obedience’ of listening and following, we are stretched and deepened, physically challenged as performers, and imaginatively as listeners. The time we have renounced…is given back to us as a time in which we have become more human, more real, even when we can’t say what we have learned, only that we have changed.”
Music changes us by touching the deepest part of us. The first recorded song in the Bible is found in Exodus 15. It is a victory song praising God for his powerful presence in their lives. God had delivered them from the oppression of the Egyptians. Moses wrote a song, and the people sang praise to God. It is an appropriate response when words fall short. I believe God would enjoy hearing a song of praise from us just as much as a prayer.
This Sunday, Join us for Lesson in Carols. We will worship God in a new interpretation of a 19th century tradition. The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols tells the story of the fall of humanity, the promise of the Messiah, and the birth of Jesus. The readings include passages from Genesis, the prophetic books and the Gospels, interspersed with the singing of Christmas carols, hymns and choir music.
Edward White Benson held the first Lessons and Carols in 1880. Benson was the Bishop of Truro, in Cornwall. Tradition says that he organized the 10:00 p.m. service on Christmas Eve in a temporary wooden shed for the purpose of keeping men out of the pubs.
Lessons and Carols have always been a part of our Advent Tradition at Hamilton Mill UMC. In our interpretation of the service we add a short message and reduce the number of readings and carols. However, we still begin with Genesis and end with a Gospel reading. Last year, Christian recording artist Staci Frenes came and shared music from her latest recording. We integrated her beautiful arrangements of traditional hymns with lessons. I am delighted to say that she is coming back to be with us this year to lead us in song and worship.
Come and worship God for all that he has done in your life and all he plans to do in your future. I pray that you allow the music to touch your heart. And I pray that you open your heart and allow your praise to touch the heart of God. Come and sing a song of praise, a song of faith, a song or hope and a song of victory. Come and be spiritually stretched and deepened, physically challenged and emotionally lifted as you “live” before God.