Today I want to share with you my excitement about the Christmas worship service on this coming Sunday evening. The program is called “A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols” and it is very different than a musical or cantata, a tradition for many churches during this time of the year.
Christmas musicals are good because they have a Christmas message with the choir sharing it, but the problem with many Christmas cantatas is that the congregation, the worshipers, became more like spectators of a show. Therefore, after praying and meditating about this, with the advice of the elders, we will have a different format of program; it will be more like a regular service, where the word of God will be read, where the congregation will sing and learn from the scriptures, where the choir will sing some specials but with the purpose of sharing a message and giving glory to God, the same God who came to the manger over 2,000 years ago.
This is an invitation for you and your family and friends. Do you like to sing Christmas carols? This is the night for you. Do you want to hear the story of redemption and the mystery of the eternal God becoming flesh? This is the night.
Let me share the lyrics of the hymn that will open the service that night. It is an old hymn that sadly is no longer in many hymnals and probably many Christians do not know it, but it is a wonderful hymn that explains the two natures of Jesus: fully God and fully man. This hymn is called “Once in Royal David’s City.”
Once in royal David’s city
stood a lowly cattle shed,
where a mother laid her baby
in a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ, her little child.
He came down to earth from heaven
who is God and Lord of all;
and his shelter was a stable,
and his cradle was a stall:
with the poor, and meek, and lowly
lived on earth our Savior holy.
Jesus is our childhood’s pattern,
day by day like us he grew;
he was little, weak, and helpless,
tears and smiles like us he knew:
and he feels for all our sadness,
and he shares in all our gladness.
And our eyes at last shall see him,
through his own redeeming love,
for that child, so dear and gentle,
is our Lord in heaven above:
and he leads his children on
to the place where he has gone.
Not in that poor lowly stable
with the oxen standing by
we shall see him, but in heaven,
set at God’s right hand on high;
there his children gather round,
bright like stars, with glory crowned.
In His service,