Friday, 9 January 2009

Post Chrimble Slump

Not a comment on the financial state of the world, but a reflection of the kind of week I've had! There are a quantity of Christmas baubles and tinsel on the lounge floor waiting for the tallest person in the house (not me - I have two strapping guys at 6'3" and 5'11" to fit that bill - and one is still growing) to get the boxes down from the loft. My bedroom looks like a disaster in a clothing factory, the kitchen floor.... well it's best to wear shoes in there if you want to get across it without sticking and so it goes on. The pile of good intentions that sits upon my desk has grown in an inverse proportion to the amount of enthusiasm I have for tackling any of it.

I attended a meeting last night where the most energetic part of the whole thing was around whether the carols in the Carol Service had been traditional enough (not one was less than 100 years old - ye gads). Apparently, people 'come a long way to sing their favourite carols' and there's me thinking that we gathered to worship God and re-tell the story of the incarnation of Christ. I think I'm probably being a bit prickly about this because I was so very ill before Christmas and had to plan and deliver services when I just wanted to curl up and die in a blaze of Night Nurse and hot toddy glory. In a moment of inspired democracy I suggested that people list their favourite carols for me, so that we might form a group and work together to plan next Christmas's services. I think I may have gone too far when someone said we hadn't sung enough carols in early  December and I pointed out that 'Advent is not Christmas' .

Is church about comfort and 'our favourite things'? I think there is a place for the familiar (there was a lot of it at Christmas - nothing at all radical I'm ashamed to confess) but what about mission, about change, growth....? The incarnation is hardly comfortable.

What do you think?


  1. The triviality of 'Church' is messing with my head too!

    Hang on in there.. please!

  2. We touched on this question of Carols in the comments to Dave's post headed 'LOL Service' over on I'm afraid that if we publicise a service (as I did) as a Carol Service, people who don't normally come to worship will make quite an effort to be there to sing what they regard as traditional carols. In our church, those like this who had come for the Carols were very upset that they only knew the first carol - 'Hark, the herald angels sing'.

    The issues appear to be -
    1. Be clear in our advertising -
    Traditional Carol Service or
    Carol Service (Traditional and Modern) or
    Carol Service - Come and worship God
    with modern carols.

    2. We should EXPECT people to come at Christmas who rarely come otherwise and, if they do, we should be ready to give them a good educative Gospel message that could tempt them to come at other times.

    3. Education is needed as to the suitability of some traditional carols for today's worship.

    4. Ministers and congregations will differ in the number of times they sing carols, so there needs to be some understanding and compromise between the two.

    Does that help - or make it worse?

  3. I think my difficulty was that I chose carols that I have sung at every carol service since childhood - so to me they where all traditional! I went for the 9 lessons and carols approach and 7 of them where absolute standards - the two that caused grumbling were 'Of the father's love begotten' and 'O come, O come Immanuel'.
    There does need to be a balance between something for those who are visiting and those who want the Christmas message to be delved into in depth.
    At that one church there had been a nativity, a carol service, a midnight communion and a christmas day service - across which pretty much every carol people love was sung. I assume that people don't want every service over christmas to contain the same hymns - but I may be wrong!