One of the Church’s most human works is the consecration of creation towards God. In a particular sense, this is the Church’s and humanity’s prime directive. Humanity was created under the decision to “Let them rule…” and mankind’s task, as image bearers of God, was to turn creation to God’s use and purpose. “Fill the earth and subdue it” wasn’t a directive to dominate. It was the task of bending creation to the praise of God, consecrating it for his glory and use. (From this lens, we can see also mission’s place–because we are at our most human when we are serving as God’s agents, bending creation to his purposes, mission is necessarily part of our task. Evangelism is part of being truly human. In it, we bend even the height of creation, human beings, to the use and praise of Almighty God.)
And we, in our zeal, have done this even with time. We are a people who believe that the Jesus Story is of such significance, that we have pulled time itself to circle it. Now, every season, every year, is marked by names and colors because during that season, we celebrate a part of the Jesus Story. We, as Christians, have decided that even time and seasons would not escape the command to bend the knee, to praise the Lord.
And so we come to Christmas, that time we have consecrated to tell the story of the Lord’s coming, of the incarnation. And one of our most interesting festivals of the Christmas season is Lessons and Carols.
It’s not a particularly popular service, frankly. (Most every Christian celebrates Christmas and Easter, but you don’t see a “Lessons and Carols” section in Hallmark!) But it is a service of beauty and of retelling the Jesus Story. Will the “information” be new? No, probably not. But it will be beautiful. It will be moving. And a people who say the same 200-something words every Sunday have long since learned that formation is more than being told once.
Lessons and Carols began on Christmas Eve, the year 1918, in Cambridge, England. At King’s College, the organist finished softly the prelude. There was a moment of silence in the darkened, candlelit sanctuary. Then, in the back of the church, one boy soprano sang out, unaccompanied,
“Once in royal David’s city
stood a lowly cattle shed
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed.”
The choir joins on the second stanza. The congregation adds its voice in the next, ending in a swell of sound. Lessons and Carols, as it has been for almost a century, an extension of our willingness to tell and re-tell this story, to hear and re-hear it. To move ourselves again to softness of heart, to say again to ourselves, “Get up, Scrooge. Tis the season. This is a story you need to re-hear.”
Join us as the Choir of Christ the Redeemer, adult and children, worship in music and wonder that God, who united to humanity, that humanity might be united to him.