Diana Adams adapted and read this Reflection by Carole Elphick at our Choir Carol Service. It is taken from A Chair Pulled to the Place of Prayer, the prayer handbook for 2008.
Imagine a conversation between people planning an act of worship such as ours this evening –
(and I did say “imagine” - because this did not actually happen!)
“We must include ‘Hark the herald angels sing’
and ‘Silent night’
and ‘Once in royal David’s City’
O yes - begin with ‘Christians awake’
but if we have ‘O little town of Bethlehem’ – do make sure it’s the right tune!
And, if we must get funky, we could include ‘Come and join the celebration’.”
But new songs? At Christmas? Forget it!
People expect to have the old carols.
That’s what they come for.
They want to feel comfortable,
as if we’ve been polishing the cross and baking mince pies since last Christmas,
so they can find everything just as it was before.
But what if, just for once, we had a change, and used some of those carols
about unmarried mothers
overbooked hotel rooms
shepherds so terrified they ran to Bethlehem
wise men so mistaken that babies and toddlers were slaughtered?
What if we even took it further
and sang songs about how God can take our pain and transform it.
How living in the church is hard because we do not agree, and don’t know how to differ.
How everyone’s secret fear of not being good enough,
or of having committed the sin for which there is no forgiveness,
can be taken, soothed, challenged, changed;
and how our lives can be changed –
re-charged, revitalized, re-inspired
simply by knowing that God is with us.
Maybe then we will go on to write the song of our lives
with re-newed hope in our hearts - so that others may sing in their turn.
Richard challenged the evening congregation here last Sunday “to be open to change” –
two thousand years ago John called on the people “to repent and change their ways.”
So, instead of finding everything as it was last year,
what if God’s Christmas guests found a renewed, open, accepting people
ready to change
ready to look within themselves and spot the areas that need to change
people ready to listen
ready to sing the terrifying song of the angels in a new chromatic key
instead of monochrome uniformity.
Change isn’t a bad thing – it’s a way of moving on, on our Christian journey -
so, may the light dawn for each of us,
may we accept the babe of Bethlehem into our lives –
may we move forward on our journey, through Christmas and into the New Year, with re-newed hope in our hearts - Emmanuel – God is with us.
After all, even ‘Silent night’ was a new song once.
Choir: “Change your ways, change your ways, cried the prophet John.
God’s own king is coming soon, so who’s side are you on?
Change your ways, change your ways, cried the prophet John.
God’s own king is coming soon, so who’s side are you on?”
"Sing to the Lord a New Song"
by Carole Elphick
from A Chair Pulled To The Place of Prayer,
the Prayer Handbook for 2008
© The United Reformed Church 2007