It’s hard to believe that it’s come around again so soon, but it has – CHRISTMAS! And, just as quickly as it comes, it seems to pass. Every year, it’s my prayer that we will make the most of the season as individuals, as families, and, certainly, as the church. We have a unique opportunity to touch thousands of lives at Christmas. Our church has a long-standing tradition of musical events that seek to share the love of Christ and the gospel with people in Carrollton, and far beyond. The Singing Christmas Tree, under the direction of Rip Cannon, began in 1975 – it was a bold, new outreach that continued for over 30 years.
Last year, we began something bold and new with a musical version of Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. God blessed us with approximately 7,000 attendees, and I am believing God for 10,000 people this year . . . not merely to have a big number, but to maximize the potential of what God has given us and to make the most of all the hours and all the dollars expended into this cause.
It all begins with THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS Concert, Sunday, December 4, at 6:00 pm. We have used THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS to describe and advertise all of our Christmas events in 2011. I want to take just a few paragraphs to examine the meaning behind THE SOUNDS OF CHRISTMAS:
MUSIC . . .
Only a guy like Ebenezer Scrooge doesn’t like Christmas music! Sure – even the carols have become commercialized, and people rarely stop to think what they are hearing (or singing) when “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” or “Joy to the World!” or many other carols are played on radio, TV, YouTube – whatever . . . but I still relish in the fact that in the midst of all the “noise” of Christmas – the true “song” of Christmas is still there, declaring, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, Christ, the Lord!” We have the honor and privilege of lifting these songs to the public, both as praise, and as proclamation, all through December. What a blessing is ours . . . relish it!
JOY . . .
My heart and emotions always swell with joy at the end of A CHRISTMAS CAROL when Scrooge is redeemed. Then, on Christmas morning, he seeks to bless Bob Cratchit and family, to reach out to his nephew Fred, his own family, as well as all of London to start his life anew with love and joy in his heart. We see him restoring relationships with those he has hurt, but, most importantly, we see that because his relationship with God is restored, he is a new person – he is, literally, born again! Only new birth in Christ can bring the authentic joy and change of heart that this story relates. This is why we have chosen as our theme scripture, 2 Corinthians 5:17:
Therefore, is any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away. Behold! all things are become new!
Listen for the JOY of new birth as we share Christ together this Christmas, and pray for salvation to come to many this year.
WORSHIP . . .
What a rich experience worship should be for the Christian at this time of year. The call of Christmas, to me, is clearly found in the carols . . . O Come, let us adore Him, Christ the Lord! Come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the newborn King! We are joining the angels, shepherds and wise men as we worship in a song that has been sung for centuries. As we sing and play the story of Christmas, it’s the story of salvation: God, sending His Son to take on flesh, to become sin for us, that he might sacrifice Himself on our behalf, that we might be forgiven and have eternal life. As we worship, we are reminded that Christ is our Emmanuel, meaning, GOD WITH US. We are not alone! The presence of Christ – God with us – should be at the forefront of our mind and heart in this season.
My prayer for us as worship leaders, is that in spite of the extra rehearsals and long hours, in spite of the added stresses and pressures that this season brings, that it will still be a rich and meaningful season of worship in each individual heart; that we will find the space and time to quiet ourselves before the Lord and gratefully experience the mysytery and wonder of God’s incarnation in Christ and worship Him fully, in spirit and in truth. Do not allow Satan to distract you or discourage you during a season that should be characterized by loving worship for Christ, that expresses itself in love for others as well – which leads me to to the last point – the sound of . . .
SERVICE . . .
I am grateful to be part of a congregation that is focused on the community around us, and the world at large, and not only on ourselves and our own needs. We see this through our Christmas Store, our fundraising for Bea’s Kids and The Friendship House, as well as international missions, activities at Central Elementary, and many other activities I’ve forgotten to mention! This simple fact is key: IT’S NOT ABOUT US! I pray that as Choir & Orchestra members, actors, technicians – whatever – we understand that our presentation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL or in a worship service or concert, is not an effort to draw attention to ourselves, but to SERVE OTHERS. Our efforts are, as Rip described them through so many years, a GIFT to the COMMUNITY. We desire for the congregation on Sundays, and the audiences at A CHRISTMAS CAROL, to sense our love for God, but, also . . . our love and concern for THEM.
At the end of 2 Corinthians 5, after Paul talks about becoming a “new creation” in Christ, he tells us that we are “ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us . . . be reconciled to God.” He says, that we have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” to share Christ in His fullness with the world. THAT is what this season is about . . . loving Him, worshiping Him, and sharing Him . . .
It is over all too quickly, so embrace it while you may!