Lessons & Carols at OLMC: 3 Reasons You Should Go!
The holidays are upon us, bringing with them peace, goodwill, joyful expectation, and the warmth of cheerful togetherness. At least, that’s what they’re supposed to bring with them. For too many of us, though, this season is fraught with anxiety, perhaps a bit of superficiality, and all too often a chaotic hustle and bustle that leaves us feeling somewhat empty and even a little lonely. So here’s an idea to get your heart firmly oriented in the direction of real Christmas happiness: Go to OLMC’s Lessons & Carols on December 15th at 3 pm in the Church. You’ll be glad you did, and here are three reasons why:
1. You’ll Remember What Christmas Is All About
We all know that “Xmas” is pretty much everywhere right now and has been since the day after Halloween. But let’s face it: despite the ever expanding shopping season, “Xmas” doesn’t have much staying power. Songs about sleigh bells and snowmen are catchy and fun, cookie exchanges are delicious and offer quality time with friends and neighbors, and finding that perfect gift for someone dear is a wonderful act of love. It’s all good while it lasts, but none of it lasts very long, because none of it gets to the real essence of Christmas. Christmas is “Word of the Father, now in Flesh appearing,” and Lessons and Carols goes right to the heart of that reality and remains there. For those seeking the true, lasting happiness the Christmas miracle still has to offer more than two thousand years later, they’ll find it in this beautiful liturgical tradition.
2. You’ll Be a Part of Something Greater than Yourself
Lessons and Carols is a world-wide custom dating back to Christmas Eve 1918, when it was first celebrated at King’s College, Cambridge; since then, it has spread like wildfire across the globe. In fact, back in Cambridge, people line up for days to participate in this beloved event. On December 15th, we at OLMC have the great privilege of joining our hearts and voices with the countless Christians, past and present, for whom Lessons and Carols has become one of the most meaningful and cherished Christmas traditions.
Despite its widespread popularity, Lessons and Carols remains relatively unheard of in our neck of the woods. So for those who are unfamiliar with it, here’s a basic primer of what to expect. First of all, the purpose of Lessons and Carols is to highlight the basic fact that Jesus is the center of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, and the very heart of the entire narrative of salvation. In anticipation of the Christmas Nativity of the Lord, Lessons and Carols reminds us that none other than Jesus is the fulfillment of centuries of promises made by God to His people. To that end, the liturgy consists of a series of Scripture readings, or “lessons,” which alternate with poignant Christmas carols, sung by the choir and congregation together. When the liturgy is performed on Christmas Eve there are nine lessons (the first four from the Old Testament and the last five from the New); because ours occurs during Advent, we'll celebrate with seven lessons (five from the Old Testament, two from the New). Together, they tell the story of God's love for man, from creation to the moment in history that reshapes all of human history: “This is no ordinary child, this is the divine Word made flesh.”
While the cacophony of Xmas can feel distracting and suffocating, Lessons and Carols sweeps us back up into the greatest love story of all time and reminds us of the profound truth that we are God's own beloved.
3. You’ll Break Out in Song with Your Neighbors, and the Shared Experience Will Leave You Breathless
You know that feeling you get at the ballgame when the entire stadium stands and sings the National Anthem or God Bless America? There’s a reason for the goosebumps. Singing together as a community about higher things that we hold and love in common touches something deep within our shared humanity. Lessons and Carols provides us with the opportunity to join together to celebrate the most precious commonality we share: the endless and passionate love that God has for us. It may be lost in the frenzy of the "holiday's," but the gift to the world of God's only begotten Son is not only worthy of all of the celebration, it can't be anything other than the defining characteristic of our lives. Lessons and Carols will provoke your mind with the inestimable significance of the Incarnation and ready your heart to receive Him anew. Talk about a service that will give you chills.
So if you find yourself longing for a little more meaning, or perhaps a bit of calm, this Advent, look no further than our own Church. The doors will be open, the candles will be lit, and the choir will be ready and excited - come, join us, and experience for yourself the peace of Christmas that passes all understanding and has no end.