By Pete Schrank
There are many traditions we hold dear. The Candlelight Christmas Eve service, where we welcome our long-expected Savior, and the Sunday School Children’s Christmas Program, with this year’s new, professionally designed costumes. Our little angels will spread the message of the season to all who attend. There are also weekly Thursday night Advent services leading us to the manger in Bethlehem. Many churches do not provide Advent services. These services are a great opportunity to slow down from the hustle and bustle of the season.
The tradition I am excited to share with you is the “Service of Lessons and Carols”. Nine lessons that take us from the fall of Humanity to the word made flesh, our Emmanuel. This service is an Anglican (The Church of England) tradition which started back in 1880 at the Truro Cathedral, by Bishop Edward White Benson on December 24th. Bishop Benson, just three years later, would become the head of the Anglican Church as Archbishop of Canterbury. He would formalize this service of Lessons and Carols throughout the United Kingdom.
Currently, the most famous Service of Lessons and Carols is held at King’s College, Cambridge. It has been performed there continuously since 1918. The service has been broadcast on the BBC world service from 1928 (less 1930) ever since. The oldest service in an American parish church is at Saint Thomas in Hanover, New Hampshire, where the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols has been presented annually since 1935.
This type of service has been adopted by many other faith traditions, like Christ Lutheran, and many other protestant denominations. It is the true essence of our Christmas celebration.
- First Lesson from Genesis 3: 8-19 (the fall of Man)
- Second Lesson from Genesis 22: 15-18 (God’s blessing of Abraham whose descendants will be a blessing to all the earth)
- Third Lesson from Isaiah 9: 2; 6-7 (speaks to a world in darkness, about the coming light of the world)
- Fourth Lesson from Isaiah 11: 1-3a; 4a; 6-9 (the promised Messiah is foretold)
- Fifth Lesson from the Gospel of Luke 1: 26-35; 38 (Gabriel announces to Mary that she will give birth to the Son of the Most High)
- Sixth Lesson from Luke 2: 1; 3-7 (the journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus)
- Seventh Lesson from Luke 2: 8-16 (Angels appear to the most humble of men, shepherds watching their sheep)
- Eighth Lesson from the Gospel of Matthew 2: 1-12 (Magi visit The Christ Child bearing gifts)
- Ninth Lesson from the Gospel of John 1: 1-14 (The word made flesh has come to dwell among us, Jesus true God and true Man)
Please join us on Sunday, December 17, at 8:00AM and 10:00AM to celebrate the blessed tradition of Lessons and Carols. Also remember Jesus is the reason for this blessed season