We don’t try to be different but we can’t help ourselves.
We don’t think a Family Services is a showcase of the best talent a church can put on stage but rather it’s about accurately representing the whole church family and valuing their approach to whatever we’re celebrating – this time a Christmas Family Service.
From the Associate Pastor riding in Emu-esque style on a creature called Bert, to a 15-voice 4-part harmony choir with just 10 minutes’ practice behind them. A childrens’ nativity play in rhyme where the adult narrator enjoyed the shoe-pooh line-ending to a serious reminder from Age UK (DVD) about the real prospect of loneliness amongst adults and others at Christmas time.
This was family service at its most natural and genuine.
There were some traditional carols of course including a lovely rendition of Away in a Manger by our family from The Grange Residential Home. We also put together one of our much-loved medleys singing excerpts from many favourite Christmas songs. In fact, eight in all almost seamlessly joined and in this order: I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas, Silent Night, I Wish it Could be Christmas Every Day, Oh Come All Ye Faithful, Feed the World, Oh Little Town of Bethlehem and Jingle Bell Rock. The eighth song was a mini medley within the medley featuring a line or two from Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Oh Come Let Us Adore Him, Feed the World and He’s the Jingle Bell Rock! PHEW.
Traditional readings, prayers and the lighting of the advent candle added the balance and normality to a Christmas service, HC3-style.
We’re a typical family and had to take a moment to announce some health-challenging times for someone from Church very special to us all. We also had the privilege of announcing the election of a new elder to our leadership team, the vote count having taken place that very morning. We also revealed the new Church logo and announced new Facebook, Twitter pages and a soon-to-be completed website.
Our short ‘sermon’ focus on one aspect of the Christmas story – that Jesus the Messiah came in order to cancel out our sin (by ultimately dying at the age of 33) so that we could know a restored relationship with God. That is why Jesus (God-the-Son) came. The Bible describes what he did as ‘cancelling the debt’. So it’s a debt-free Christmas if we accept this gift, as the Carol says, ‘the gift of God’s own son’.
Now, as I reflect back on what was a vibrant, fast-paced and action-packed service I can’t help but realise how easy these people make it for me to be Pastor at HC3. They give, they serve, they work together and they take responsibility and don’t expect somebody else to do what they themselves should be doing.
HC3 isn’t a group of saintly long-in-the-tooth religious folk. OK some have followed God most of their lives but many haven’t and for others that journey hasn’t long begun. But we don’t make those distinctions – we all have a unique role and contribution. There is brokenness and failure in some of our pasts but we have received the gift of cancelled debt – we are forgiven. And when we ask for forgiveness God not only forgives but he rebuilds us.
So back to the report on last Sunday’s family service. Well, you may have noticed I didn’t mention any names except one. It’s not that we are pious or self-deprecating – in fact we’re huge fans of thanking people and recognising the contributions people make to every aspect of our church family life.
But the madness and fun and blessing and celebration of our Christmas Family Service was possible because of the one name you’ll read in this report – JESUS!
We’d love to see you at HC3 sometime but for now we wish you a debt-free Christmas! “Where meek souls still receive HIM still…the dear Lord enters in”.
–Pastor Stephen Jarrold.