Pastoral Notes for Sunday, December 10, 2017

Tonight is the night, and I can hardly wait.

One of the staples of the Christmas season at Cornerstone is our annual Service of Lessons & Carols. For those new to our midst or unfamiliar with the history behind this glorious service, the service began in 1918 at King’s College Cambridge led by Eric Milner-White, who was Dean of King’s College at the time. The opening service was received with such great acclaim that it became an annual tradition at King’s College and is today one of the most beloved Christmas services throughout the world.

Throughout the years, the service has, for the most part, remained the same. Minor revisions were made in 1919 involving rearrangements of the lessons. And every year there are adaptations of music and carols, though the service has always opened with one of my favorite hymns, “Once in Royal David’s City.”

The BBC first broadcasted the service in 1928 and, with the exception of 1930; the service has been broadcasted every year since. The broadcast extended overseas in the mid 1930’s and it’s popularity quickly spread worldwide. It was even broadcasted during World War II when the stain glass windows of the cathedral and the heat source were removed from the building for security reasons. During those dark and tumultuous days for the world, the service of Lessons of Carols provided a gospel reminder of hope and peace.  

As the popularity of the service grew, churches around the globe began to adapt the service for their own corporate use. If you’ve never attended a Lessons & Carols service before, the power is in the main theme of the Scriptural lessons and carols. What Dean Milner-White called, “the development of the loving purposes of God through the windows and words of the Bible.” 

A few weeks back I eavesdropped on the choir as they practiced for this year's Lessons & Carols service. Trust me friends; we are in for a treat! Speaking of treats, I should note that we will have members from our sister congregation, All Saint’s Presbyterian Church (PCA), joining us for tonight’s worship service. I am particularly thrilled to have All Saint’s pastor and my dear friend, Rev. Matt Bradley, participating as one of our readers tonight. Be sure to welcome Rev. Bradley and other All Saint’s members as you have an opportunity tonight.

On that note, it’s not too late to invite friends and family to join you for tonight’s service. Any and all are welcome to take the grand journey with us—a journey through the Scriptures, from the beginning of time to the fullness of time, from the Garden of Eden to the little town of Bethlehem. In a word, it is the journey of the gospel of grace, the good news of great joy that is for all people (Luke 2:10).