Pastoral thoughts from a United Methodist in Western Kentucky (USA)
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Our Love, Our Hope, Ourselves
I dearly love what I do as an ordained minister, and believe I am called and convicted to it. Indeed, I don't really know what else I would do on this earth.
At the same time, on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, there is a part of me that yearns to be a worshiper instead of a presider. On this one day, I would rather sing hymns than lead them, I would rather hear the Word proclaimed than be the one proclaiming it, I would rather be receiving Christ at the Eucharist as a communicant rather than as presider. My love of Christ and my love of music overwhelms me on this day. I just want to sit in the pew and worship.
I know that's not reality, because my love of the Church outweighs my own selfishness. So for many years I have listened to the international broadcast of Lessons and Carols from King's College, Cambridge - my opportunity to "sit in the pew" and simply worship. This year, schedule and work didn't allow me to listen to it. So, arriving home after our 11 PM Christmas Eve service, I watched several clips from previous years' worship services at King's College. Hearing the scripture readings and the carols sung remind me of the joy of Christmas, why I am Christian, and why I love Christ so.
This carol, "The Shepherd's Carol," is new... and brings tears to my eyes and joy to my heart every time I hear it. Sung from the standpoint of the shepherds to Mary, it captures serenity, humility, wonderment, and the implications of Christ's birth to the world. It is a anonymous poem that gifted British composer Bob Chilcott set to choral setting in 2000. No organ, no piano, no instruments whatsoever - and none needed. (Turn up the volume or get headphones to catch the richness of the voices and harmony)
May we offer to Jesus our love, our hope, and ourselves.
We stood on the hills, Lady, Our day’s work done, Watching the frosted meadows That winter had won.
The evening was calm, Lady, The air so still, Silence more lovely than music Folded the hill.
There was a star, Lady, Shone in the night, Larger than Venus it was And bright, so bright.
Oh, a voice from the sky, Lady, It seemed to us then Telling of God being born In the world of men.
And so we have come, Lady, Our day’s work done, Our love, our hopes, ourselves We give to your son.