Back at FredMcKinnon.com. 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: http://www.gbod.org/worship/default.asp?act=reader&item_id=3733.
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
"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.
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?