Many of us are familiar with the Christmas story. We know about the shepherds and angels, the birth in the stable with the swaddling clothes and the manger. But do we know the full story of Christmas? Do we know the full story of God becoming flesh, the incarnation?
Next Sunday we will hear the full story of Christmas in our first Advent Festival of Lessons & Carols. The first service of Lessons & Carols was held late at night in a large wooden shed in Truro, England on Christmas Eve, 1880. The shed was a temporary structure serving as the Cathedral of Truro at the time, and the service was drawn up by E.W. Benson, dean of the cathedral, who would later become Archbishop of Canterbury. Benson arranged a sequence of lessons (readings from the Old & New Testaments) followed by carols. Each lesson was read by a member of the church ranging from a small boy up to the Bishop.
In 1918 this service was adapted for use at King’s College Chapel in Cambridge, England. To this day the service is celebrated every Christmas at King’s College and broadcast around the world by the BBC.
Our service today picks up on this great tradition. The 7 lessons you will hear this morning are the same ones read around the world this Christmas season. Interspersed between these readings we will sing favorite hymns, listen to praises sung by choirs, and ponder the significance of what we have heard in this great story of Christmas. The lessons trace the story of God’s relationship with His people up to His coming in the person of Jesus Christ. The service will conclude with a Children’s Christmas pageant where we will see the familiar Christmas story through a new lens, having heard the full background of those events which occurred 2,000 years ago.
It is my hope and prayer that at this service will be drawn into the great drama of creation that comes to a climax in the birth of Jesus Christ, our savior. To him be all honor and glory now and throughout all ages. Amen!