Dear Pastor …
and the Wesley family,
In response to an invitation to help and be part of planning our celebration of Christmas at Wesley (particularly the Candlelight carol service), honored indeed, I share my 2 bits.
This Christmas continuing the call to return/reform/renewal/revival:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” – Romans 12:1****
Candle-light service: our way of announcing and praising god for Christ’s birth. Well, stating the obvious?! Yes, cause if our very life is a gift of that sacrifice, Why are our offerings to this place, like that of Cain?
2 points of action
1) Maximum participation of members
2) Making it grand and an event to be proud of
yes! in that order.
1) So if we are to share the love and joy of our savior’s birth we have to move our lazy cells upstairs and galvanize our muscles to move and to learn to smile again and press on in all earnestness. If we don’t, well, we still can buy our goodies from the corner kirana stores and have a merry Christmas in the confines of our homes… and the emptiness that ring around you. If you know not, call a parent who lives alone. Oh, there are many such people in our town.
2) Most often all our programs are last-minute-rushed events, even if some of them are on the same dates on the calendar every year. And the time to devote to these and at most times lackluster and pathetic at best.
Well, deny it!, but just go back a few months and you will see the month long 125th celebration was not a joyous coming together to mark an important landmark: that there was pan-church participation only the first of those Sundays, the other Sundays were skeletal attendance, to a point wherein people who came to sing in our church want to forget that they did come here to help us celebrate our important day. And harvest, no, not saying it, you go find out! And if we haven’t noticed the dwindling numbers in the pews, please do try and see, we may have not have come to feel the absence of our neighbour. Oh yes, there have been few events which promised much, but have only been sparks so few that they refuse to kindle.
So to move on and not dwell there, cause inspite of all this we are still to find our path. Really didn’t come to complain, but that task did overwhelm, therefore just calling in the whole troop. More participation is a must. Or soon our newly made up old beautiful structure will have to give way to the beauty of ruins. Our children will know no way to commune, and Shrinks will have to be our new gods. Oh yes, money can buy that. But, money can’t seem to buy us the right way to live – if gregarious is what we are made to be… Then not at all! Money can’t buy love! Even the Animals and Beatles knew that.
How onward then:
Inviting a group to be a plan and execution team (done – letter of invitation). A core-group to work with all the people who will perform and get the schedule clear so as to allow maximum participation of groups and also taking time into consideration. If we treat our audience in the pews like we do with crassness we are only adding to the problem.
The committee should coax and encourage the participants to give their best. If there is a budget for each of these groups it should be made known so they don’t have to skimp on the essentials. A lot of times shabby and bad performances are justified cause ‘they don’t care’. Well, who ever that ‘they’ be.
Immediately announce in church about the program and a brief on how we plan to go about it…and invite people to volunteer and join groups that are singing and be part of of the celebration. Christmas is the time to organize too.
The Church last year wore a unique look, it was because a lot of them worked towards it. I suppose like then there should be more hands and minds working on that and follow up on other events after this too.
The program has to be scripted meaningfully and in keeping with the schedule (time). There should be a team of people from our church who work with words – teachers, editors and also those who love to contribute, be called to participate.
All teams should work in openness and with sensitivity to all others. Also mindful that we don’t waste resources, respectful to the environment, and avoiding duplication of effort. If we prayed and worked together the load is light and the result will be uplifting..
Let’s lift our hands in unity and in the knowledge of his love, there is no meaning to this life, if in the pursuit of happiness/money we lose our soul. “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” – Matthew 16:26
Dinner after Candle Light Service would be a good thing if that is on the Church’s Christmas agenda.
A few words on other aspects of our church too:
Carol rounds: In the last few years, the carol rounds are more chore rounds. Most of them who accompany don’t sing or are tired. No, this is not an ageist jab, there are young people who pass out too, it seems. But, I would like to make this observation, that it’s such a drag and it shows, we go on inspite of. Well, a church’s life might be defined thus, and the pastor might find it even a waste of his time to build a lasting solution, thinking if building that might risk there being no carol rounds (even as sad as our expression of that joy is) in his stay here. This compromising position only helping a lukewarm existence. (“But since you are like lukewarm water, I will spit you out of my mouth!” – Rev 3:16 )
Well, if that is a bad thing, then let us try and do it right it atleast. This waking up people late at night and they then wondering why you had to do that, is no solution. Them wondering why was the wonderful news of His birth delivered in such a package. No!, the men from the east weren’t wise? ! In the old days,(just to qualify the time, about 25-30 years ago), a group of young people went out in the christmas season to have some fun had more rewards for the listener. They most often lit up a few faces that night. We will have to be brave and give our young the confidence to be responsible on their strong young legs. The old trying to keep step with them is dragging both down. Or like Paul said: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” No, not the letter he wrote our church**, this one was to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13:11 ).
And the old must support their effort and make them welcome on these grounds and the young will know soon how to conduct themselves and not abuse the grounds. If you ask them why they do, they might know not another way, with even most of us also don’t – the parents perplexed with what a moral stand could be in a moral institution. we seem to have lost all authority to show the young what might be the way. departing from the core – mammon over the way Christ was pointing.
Carol rounds practically is an out pouring of joy that comes at the end of the calendar year. It is an expression in song and verse and that is also why the years of wisdom, youth and choir are part of the Rounds, cause to state the obvious again, singing all year around and singing at Christmas became an organic extension of church life.
This thing of people adding to the number and because they have nothing to do, is not at all a solution, it’s not even anywhere in that direction.
Oh! about nothing better to do: people who have nothing to do being entrusted the Church is a nice way to absolve oneself of the responsibility and therein also the joy of community life. Oh, yes, still referring to that 2 hours (on Sunday) a week! No, NO! There is no need to wait to see what I talk about, the rot is upon us. It is now!! Quite like the garbage that cushion our city living in Bangalore these days.
Youth: The young will have to take this legacy forward. And we need to make sure they are here today for that tomorrow that we profess is theirs, from pulpits and from the head of tables. Though you know that even though they (the committee) constantly planned and built things for those that are to come 20 years from now, all the while sacrificing our present at the alter of corrupt*(not thinking it through with the many heads, leaving it to one who has ‘all the time’) ways. Christmas is the time to organize too, and the fun and the joy of it always draws the young so let them in, and let them be children again.
Shouldn’t the PC be involved in the community building rather than being involved with cement and bricks? Aren’t they part of us and therefore the arm that equips the pastor to do his spiritual duties and that add light and insight to the admin, rather than the other way around?
Oh yes, some of these are deep rooted. But to allow the wrong to be part of the system is moving it to ward-terminal. You want examples?: the best one I have I will provide if asked. :). here’s a minor one though, you ask any PC member why only portion of the wall of the Church is painted. You will hear ‘I don’t know’ or ‘who cares?’
But, yes, let’s start the long journey with tiny/first steps, rather than lie on our backs and say, Jerusalem/Church is far, and I care not to go there.
I come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company to be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all.***
* corrupt in this case is our apathy.
** Wesley got it’s own epistle.
**** slogan for the 125th year celebration – renewal and revival.
Ps: oh yes, we are sad and sorry for the way some folks want people thrown out, or was it just a public stoning they sought?