Poplar Carol Service 2004
A giant game ‘pass the parcel’ seemed to work well as in our carol service as we "unwrapped Christmas" together. It was actually chaos, paper everywhere, kids everywhere, hay everywhere. Angels fell off the stage, Joseph with attitude and the Kings returned by another route but as opportunists took Jesus Saviour of the world with them - perfect!
But in the chaos you couldn’t help but be encouraged. As the carol service wended its way I looked and saw the small corps/church packed out. I looked into the faces of those who knew what it was to be part of a congregation that had dwindled almost to extinction - there was a glint! I looked and saw people that haven’t been to church for years – “it’s time I came back”. I saw people we have sat through the year with and had cups of tea in the community café - "we've really enjoyed church we didn't realise it could be this much fun - do we have to wait until next Christmas?". I saw families come for the first time with the intention of coming back more often. I saw someone who came into church for the first time “you know, I’m here because my life needs guidance – I‘m at a crossroads and I need to find God”. I saw the beautiful diversity of people that is our family.
As I looked I forgot the pastoral hurts and heartaches; I forgot the broken dreams, crushed vision; I forgot the bruises – I forgot and couldn't help but feel encouraged.
As I looked I remembered God has been good to us, God has been Immanuel and as I looked out into the chaos, the mayhem that was our carol service. I remembered and realised that no-one can steal any of it, not even a 6 year old opportunist king!
[picture of our 'variegated' family I took earlier in the year]