Monday, 22 December 2008

Carols at Dusk * Go tell it!

Back at Setlists galore.

My commissioning for this year's carol service was simple. Tell the story. In addition, I needed to keep it simple, as I work full time and this is the busiest period in our company's calendar. I am not the only one in the team of people that were involved this year that work. Almost all work, and some were working shifts. Practising was tricky at best. There is nothing quite as beautiful to me as a church community working together, using their gifts to the glory of God. This year's carol service was an excellent example of that. It was my privilege and joy to serve alongside them.

We had a Christmas tree up with white fairy lights and a manger. Outside (only for when folks left, as it's too light earlier) we had silver tin cans with tealights in them lighting the pathway. It was like a fairytale.

You'll see that the carols are all the most well known and well sung of them all. They were partly chosen because they tell the story and partly because I have remained challenged over this season by the Musical Hospitality article:

There was no chatter in between, just a relatively smooth flow from one part to the next, apart from me speaking about the remembrance ornaments.

Welcome & Announcements
Group Item: I will remember - Kim Anthony Gentes (I had prepared lively, funky A King is Born - Tom Inglis for the group item but our guitarist needed to fix someone's car and could not do the music for us. I couldn't find a backing track anywhere on the www and so hurredly found a substitute. I wouldn't do it again. All you end up remembering is "I will remember You" which could be something sung to a loved one. Also, the wording wasn't great for a group item. I considered changing it, but eventually decided that I wasn't comfortable with that option)

Reading: Luke 1:26-38 (All readings NLT - which translations do you favour? - and, where possible, I gave the speaking bits to people so that it was a little more dramatic. I had a brilliant narrator. Such an important role to get cast.)
Item: Breath of Heaven (Mary's Song) - backing track - a young lady that would have been about Mary's age sang this. She is a soprano lyrico and the song was exquisite. A really lovely solo for Christmas

Remembrance ornaments
"For many, the holidays are a stark reminder of what used to be, or what should have been, or what never was. Loved ones gone, homes or jobs lost, dreams shattered. If this doesn’t describe you this Christmas season, it undoubtedly describes someone you know, whose path you’ll cross. " (from Willow Creek's Prepare series)

This year, our church remembered in particular those who are grieving the loss of loved ones. I asked some creative craft types to make doves for us and decorate them a little and we placed these ornaments on the tree during the singing of Silent Night. In researching for Christmas, I came across the European concept of Blue Christmas and wanted to incorporate that thinking into our service. There are great sadnesses for many within this season.

Silent Night

Monologue - Joseph

Away in a Manger

Reading: Luke 2:1-7
O Come all ye Faithful – Lighting of the candles (we can't really do this any earlier - 19.30 in the southern hemisphere - I need say no more). We were also really hot during the service. It was a beautiful JBay night. Tough to make the decision between sweltering or music and scripts flying everywhere. Flipfiles next year. Wish we could have done the whole thing on the beach...maybe 2009.
Reading: Luke 2:8-12; Luke 2:13-14
Hark the Herald Angels

While Shepherds Watched
Extracts from Three Kings Poem – Longfellow - I loathe and detest using bits and pieces of classic poems, but one of the comments on my choice of the Longfellow poem was that it may become a little tedious for some as it is quite long. I reluctantly agreed and took verses together that would tell the story. Love the poem. Was really searching for someone with a baritone storytelling voice that could do it for me but alas. My friend handled it exceptionally well.

Joy to the World
Whilst I, personally, am very opposed to an offering in any of the Christmas services unless they are for charity or for folks who are less privileged, we had a retiring offering. What are your thoughts - firstly, on using a retiring offering rather than a bag that goes around, and secondly, on offering during the Christmas season?

The service went well and we had an okay turnout. My own thoughts on the service were that it was disappointing from my own perspective. I expected too much of people, the planning wasn't started early enough, there was not sufficient dovetailing with other Christmas services and I think I could have worked harder to get folks focussed on Christ. In essence, I could have used a full time assistant. :D

I need to pay tribute here to a great husband. The best. He continually enables me to minister to the best of my ability despite the sacrifices that he constantly has to make in order for this to be possible and despite him being a busy student pastor. Those of you with spouses - are they also in ministry? Do they help or hinder you?


dorothy (vicar of vibe) said...

Great post. Loving the details. And I particularly enjoyed the link you posted on musical hospitality. Very timely.
Sounds like a wonderful, God honoring worship.
Finding someone that is gifted at dramatic interpretation is such a blessing.
I can really feel that a lot of prayer and thought went into this celebration.
I understand your disappointment. Expectations are something we all struggle with. In fact I plan on writing a post soon on how to deal with that and building teams. It’s a long and growing process sometimes.
Thanks for your comment about your husband. Sometimes the spouses are overlooked. They always are contributing, even if it is as simple as keeping the home fires burning while we spend so much time at church.
My husband isn’t even a Christian. But he fetches, totes, builds, fixes and often goes shopping with me. He also has a warm meal prepared for me when I return from a long day of set designing. I couldn’t do what I do with out him. I am blessed and I love him.
Last, but not least…thank you for your kind words of encouragement. They always mean so much to me.
By the way, what is your first name? Or do you go by lk?

Lori Biddle said...

Thanks for commenting on my blog! Love to hear from new fellow leaders! Your service looked great! To answer you question about "I will remember". We performed it as a performance to support our theme "Names of God", so it fit perfectly and I feel it really focused the congregation thematically. We then stood them for worship...

My husband is on staff full time. So, it is such a blessing, it is rare indeed to find a spouse capable of understanding what ministry demands! We are blessed indeed!!

Merry Christmas - Lori Biddle
Mansfield, Ohio

Louise Knight said...

@ dorothy - I love the details on others' setlist blogs, too. It helps get a sense of where the leader wanted to take the worship.

I didn't agree with everything in the article, but the chap made some very insightful points, particularly for us. As a seaside town, we are inundated with visitors over Christmas, and this significantly changes the face of our congregation.

I am floored by how much your husband gets involved, especially as he is not a believer! Such a wonderful picture of love.

@ Lori - thanks for the explanation. It was useful AND I may use it in that kind of context in the future. I also love using the old song Jesus, Name above all names for that - you'll see that I used it the previous Sunday. So much potential for harmonising and just getting lost in praise.