NLIC Weekender (12/19/2013) – God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen

New Life in Christ Weekender

A short reminder of events happening this weekend

 [Scroll down for a list of events.]

 Dear New Life in Christ Church Family,

 This last Monday the Young Adult Care Group went to the Homeless Shelter to lead a Christmas Carol sing along.  We brought a sheet of paper with a pretty standard set of Christmas carols for each resident to sing from, together with Candy Canes … of course!  I suspect that you would know most of the songs on the sheet, if not all of them.  Some of the residents sang and others just listened.  In the end one woman admitted to me why she didn’t sing … the carols we sang were brand new to her.  It was surprising (though it shouldn’t have been if I thought about it) because I thought … these are classic Christmas carols.  Everybody knows these!  I was regretfully wrong, a sad reality because of the way these Christmas carols tell the story of Jesus.  It also reminded me of how much we need good songs to teach the gospel to others.

 We sing hymns and songs for many reasons.  One of the reasons we sing hymns is to teach one another.  John Frame, in his book Worship in Spirit and Truth writes, “Poetic and/or musical forms enhance the word of God in various ways.  In particular, poetic-musical forms impart vividness and memorability to God’s words.  That vividness and memorability, in turn, drive the word in to our hearts, so that it becomes precious to us and motivates us to praise and obedience.” (112)

 One of the most loved Christmas songs of all time is “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen”.  The very title of the song shows how wonderful the Christmas story is.  The idea of “rest” means  “to keep” or “maintain”.  It is a Christmas blessing wishing that God would keep the Christian person “merry” – joyful, cheerful and encouraged.  The second stanza says “Let nothing you dismay” … in other words, “don’t let your circumstances get you down”.  Why?“Remember Christ our Savior was born on Christmas Day”.  He came to “Save us all from Satan’s power when we were gone astray”.  The song goes on to tell the story of Jesus’ birth.

“In Bethlehem, in Israel, this blessed Babe was born,
And laid within a manger upon this blessed morn;
The which His mother Mary did nothing take in scorn.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy; O tidings of comfort and joy.” 

As we sing we encourage one another.  Because God has loved us we love one another.  The hymn ends in this way,

“Now to the Lord sing praises all you within this place,
And with true love and brotherhood each other now embrace;
This holy tide of Christmas all others doth deface.
O tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy; O tidings of comfort and joy.”

 So let’s keep singing.  Let’s keep worshiping.  As we do, we may be effectively evangelizing the lost.  I pray that everyone in the Homeless Shelter came to a better understanding of the gospel as they heard and sang these Christmas carols. 

 What about you?  How does the Christmas story “rest you merry”?  How does it bring you out of your circumstances into the story of God?  Have Christmas carols and hymns been important in teaching you about the faith?  I’d love to hear from you.

 And may God rest you this Christmas season!

 Faithfully Yours,
Pastor Sean

[Calendar of Events]

Thursday

Young Adult Christmas Party (meet at the church at 6 PM) – We will be meeting at 7 PM in the Fireside Room for a dress-up dinner followed by a murder-mystery party with a Christmas theme. We’ll also have some Christmas carol singing and a short Christmas message. It’s a great night to invite non-Christian friends.  $12 a person (pay at the door) – Please let me know if you need a scholarship.

Saturday

Christmas Cantata Dress Rehearsal: Choir and Orchestra – 9 AM

Sunday

  • Sunday School – 9 AM (click here to see an online description of the classes)
  • Worship Service – 10 AM – Fourth Sunday in Advent – Pastor Doug Preaching
  • Special Strings Concert – 5:45 PM – we have a special strings concert before the start of our Christmas Cantata.  Come and enjoy a powerful concert of some of the greatest songs of the season.
  • Evening Service – 6 PM – Christmas Cantata.  One of the highlights of the Christmas Season at New Life in Christ Church is our Christmas Cantata. Come and hear some great music of the season as our choir presents “Gloria”.  This is a really good event to invite your friends and family to attend.
  • No Junior and Senior High Youth Group and No Prayer Time this Sunday

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